Archive

Archive for the ‘Greatest Hits’ Category

[Revisiting] Time to Go, Leno: The NBC Late Night Lambaste.

November 15, 2010 1 comment

So with the Late Night talk-show scene finally, seemingly, settled down and back in place, I thought I might re-visit an old blog I wrote for another site regarding the whole Leno-Conan thing, and then the subsequent Letterman, Kimmel, Ferguson and Fallon aftermath.  Currently, Conan’s new TBS show is working EVERYone over, but we’ll see what the ratings say once he’s settled into the middle of the season.  He left NBC on top of the ratings, and debuted on TBS on top too, hopefully he can keep up the pace.  As we wait for the numbers to roll in, enjoy this blast from the past (you guys get an extra link and a few new pics in this version): 

**************************

[originally post on Jan 13, 2010 for campusintel.com ]

Wow, NBC really screwed the pooch on the Late Night scene, didn’t they?

How can you shuffle and promote your hosts up the ranks (Fallon to Late Night, Conan out of Late Night and to The Tonight Show, Leno out of The Tonight Show and then to his own show) the same way that has been done since Late Night comedy shows have been on, find out that your ratings weren’t doing what you thought they would, and then expect all the hosts to react peacefully to your suggestion of a shuffle-back like you were taking a mulligan in golf, and not have a problem with it?

That Tonight Show hosting gig has been the crown jewel for late night talk show hosts since the Johnny Carson era; coveted by many, but obtained by few (originally debuted in 1954 with host Steve Allen).  David Letterman was very public about his desire to host the show when Carson was retiring, when he was still hosting the Late Night show that Conan O’Brien inherited sequentially.  When he was not chosen as Carson’s successor and Leno was, Letterman took a hike over to CBS and then became The Tonight Show’s direct and main competition, hosting The Late Show.  For some reason, all indications were that Leno beat Letterman in the ratings for the 17 years he hosted the show; though I always felt The Late Show was way more entertaining.  Which brings me to my next point:

Jay Leno sucks.

I’m sure he’s a nice dude (well, I’m not really sure from personal experience, but he seems like he’d be nice), but I just never liked his show.  Anyone who’s had a chance to listen to Howard Stern has likely heard Stern rant about how bad Leno is, how he’s ruined NBC, and how Leno stole a lot of his material and used it on The Tonight Show.  The new Jay Leno Show is basically the same show as his Tonight Show routine, just at a different time, and the ratings are tanking; as opposed to when he was on an hour later doing the same material, and ruling the ratings.  So what’s the difference?  Maybe there’s more to that 11:35 pm EST show time slot that we realize…

Now after a 6 year warning of the switch, and only 7 months into the new lineup, for some reason NBC just expects Conan and Fallon to bump themselves back an hour (keeping the names of their shows) so they can rotate Leno back into the fold at the cushy time slot.  Thankfully, Conan balked at the idea, saying in an interview:

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009… I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is actually really good.

For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Why does NBC insist on milking a dry cow (Leno)? Surely it took Leno longer than 7 months to develop a loyal following and ratings spike; how in the world is 7 months long enough for Conan to do the same, especially after they told him for 6 years that he was going to be “the guy” for that show, and all the previous hosts got from 3-30 years at that slot? 

The only real solution is that Leno needs to walk away.  Look Jay, it’s over.  You had your time in the sun; all 17 years of it. You did good.  You’re not putting up the numbers that you need to, and now it’s time to move on.  Late Night television on NBC is in good hands, and will be fine without you.  You’ve got plenty of money, and lots of cars to drive around.  If you really have the itch, you can always hit the stand-up circuit.  It’s time to pass the torch!  Letterman’s better than all of you anyways.

Letterman weighs in on the NBC debacle.

Jimmy Kimmel works over Leno on The Jay Leno Show.

Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson diffuse their war before it starts.

A Memo To Soccer People (if you play, watch, or like sports, please read).

September 18, 2009 12 comments

 

who, would you say, is more entitled to a celebration, if they score?

who, would you say, is more entitled to a celebration, if they score?

Dear Soccer People,

 

So you’ve got the most popular sport globally, soccer (football for the purists).  Though I doubt the research sometimes, I’ve heard the stat so many times I guess there’s got to be some truth to it.  You sell-out stadiums every night, and sometimes you riot because you’re into it so deep.  You got passion, I dig that. 

Your game doesn’t differ conceptually that much from similiar sports (get the ______ in the other team’s ______ ), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough.  Playing some pick-up soccer myself has re-inforced this to me.  If you haven’t noticed by now, just because the pro’s on TV in ANY sport make it look easy, doesn’t mean you can do it that well in your half-time beer-and-smoke-break league.  Just like any sport, it takes a lot of skill and effort to be any good at soccer.  Minus the diving.  

BUT still, with all that being said, please soccer players… if you listen to only one thing I say in this whole blog, let it be this:

  Your sport contains THE BIGGEST NET IN SPORTS. 

I realize that goals in soccer come on an average of 2 or 3 a month, but just because you finally punted that borderline beach-ball size of inflated rubber into netting which could corral a beluga whale, past the guy with no over-sized padding, does NOT mean your backflip is warranted.  Hey, scoring is cool, heck it’s one of the best feelings there is to feel.  But honestly, the fewer airplane spins and power knee-slides I see, the better.  I don’t, for one

I'm a professional athlete.  They pay me money to act like this.

I'm a professional athlete. They pay me money to act like this.

second, approve of the baby thumb-sucking celebration i’ve seen on a few occasions.  Also why do soccer players feel the need to rip off their jerseys when they score a big goal?  That jersey is a sense of pride in most sports.  The difference between hockey players and soccer players is that while soccer players don’t want their jerseys on and rip them off, hockey players grab their crest and shake it like a polaroid they’re so happy to have it on their chest.  Some hockey teams will actually fine their players for letting their jerseys touch the floor in the dressing room they’re so serious about respecting the uniform.

Scoring in hockey is unbelievably tough at the top levels.  The net is small, and most goaltenders are large humans to begin with, AND THEN they put on their pads, filling in and spilling over any “holes” that may have previously been present; likening your scoring chances to moustaches ever being actually, really, cool again.  You gotta be really good to pull either situation off.  So hockey goals deserve a big celly (celebration), but even the rockpiles (rookies) know not to go too far.  Fist pump: yes.  Stick ride: No. Ice duster with a follow-up pumper-nickle: time and a place.  Canoe paddle: Don’t bother suiting up next game.

Football players gotta grind those TD’s out.  There’s some big, bad mamma-jamma’s out there that really don’t want you in their end.  There’s some huge meathead football players, but even the best teams have a tough time getting it in field goal range against a defensive line named after large kitchen appliances.  So Terrell, I say flap your wings.  Throw the grenades and blow your team up.  Dirty bird, get derrrty.  You’ve earned it.

Basketball is well aware that even though they have the smallest net in team sports, it’s just not that big of a challenge when the telephone-pole sized players can literally start placing the ball in the net for over 100 points a game.  Even the dunkers are aware of the frequency of conversion.  Rarely do you see a basket celebration, and with good reason.

So soccer players, in conclusion, I enjoy your game, but never forget NO ONE IN SPORTS HAS A BIGGER NET THAN YOU. 

 The only exception I will allow to this rule is the header goal, or that bicycle kick.  These might be the toughest goals in sports to score, and to that I say climb the goal post and pick the coconuts for all I care, you deserve it.     Hopefully my British friends haven’t disowned me.  Remember, I’m not attacking soccer as a whole, just the over-sensationalized celebrations to goal size ratio, that’s all.  Just keep it all in perspective.  This is all I ask.

 

Scooters, Televised Radio, and The Senior Ski Pole Scam.

August 20, 2009 3 comments

If there’s one ongoing bother I have, it’s gotta be people walking around the streets with ski poles, trying to get in shape.  I mean, ski poles?  Is this all we could come up with as the next phase in physical fitness?  Aren’t these devices generally reserved for precision steering and turning in DOWNHILL skiing?  Did walking a straight line and semi-incline really get that tough all of a sudden?  What gets me is that someone is making a truckload off people’s stupidity that has led them to buy into the theory that these sticks are gonna help them reach their fitness goals, and that that truckload is in no way affiliated with me.  Also, the largest consumer demographic for this product seems to be old people, and by this phase in their lives, they should be able to spot a scam when they see one.  But that’s just my opinion.

one of these things is not like the other...

one of these things is not like the other...

 In other news, who is it that thinks renting scooters is so cool?  Why in the world would i want to get out of my car that has at least 100 hp, to pay $50 to ride on a vehicle that can only travel the dollar amount i’ve paid km/h?  They’re slow, you look just ridiculous on the road; overall, i don’t know why people are doing this to themselves for an afternoon.  I mean fine, if you’ve chosen to scoot as a economic and environmental choice, ok.  You’ve obviously come to terms with what society is thinking of you as you putter on by.  But especially the ones who i see on the road all the time by themselves not with anyone, I mean, lets be honest, you’re not impressing anyone and you’re embarassing yourself.  Hey, dems da breaks. 
 scooter

                                                ***

Let me tell you about televised talk radio.  It’s on sportsnet from time to time, and believe me, that’s more than enough.  Why in the world would anyone want to watch radio?  If I wanted to listen to their radio show, i would listen ON the RADIO.  At least then I could pretend that these people look better than they actually do; I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the perceived view I always have of a radio show host from their voice always disappoints me greatly when I see what they look like in real life.  And this becomes ever so more apparent when I see these  slobs on TV.  This one guy, seriously looks like he just got up and didn’t even bother to dress himself properly for the show; like he’s used to not having the world see what a slug he is.  This guy, i’m telling you…hair’s everywhere, didn’t bother to comb it, dark glasses so no one can see his hangover eye-bags, grubby old, baggy coffee stained zip up sweater, and I can’t confirm he was even wearing pants.  I mean come on, is this actually entertaining to anyone to the point that they would sit down and watch this blockhead talk about his ludacrous sports opinions?  I used to work at a job where I drove a delivery truck which only had A.M. radio, and the most interesting show on the RAD-I-O was the very same syndicated Fan Radio Sports talk show.  It’s much better heard in its intended format.   

                                                ***

I also got beef with people who want you to do something, but just tell you to do it, “if you want.” This bothers me.  If you would like me to do something, why don’t you just ask?  In truth, I probably don’t “want” to do it at all, as i’ve obviously not done it on my own initiative so far.  What in the world has brought you to the conclusion that i would suddenly “want” to do it at the hint of your suggestion?

                                               ***

I have a feeling that the same way that my parents grew up on Led Zepplin and were chastized by their parents at the time for listening to “terrible” music, is the same way how my parents ridiculed me for listening to rap in the house, and i’ll probably be 40 or 50 years old pumpin’ Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg when no one’s looking.  Funny how things like rock and roll and rap were once persecuted by society one day, and eventually accepted and enveloped into culture the next.  I really really hope that emo isn’t next.

Koreans do a poor Chinese impression: The Acupuncture Story.

August 4, 2009 8 comments

(orginally posted February 9th, 2009)

So, my right ankle is not that well off from fracturing my growth plate in grade 9 after coming down from a spike in a volleyball game onto John Herron’s foot. Also, I (speculatively) inherited my grandmother’s ankles, who was just recently told by her doctor that her ankle was worn out and couldn’t be fixed. All that to say, sometime this past summer (2008) I was playing on my rec-league once-a-month Korean soccer team, and I turned my ankle pretty good. It was in rough shape, but I managed to walk it off, and finish the game. The next day it had doubled in size and tripled in colors.

I showed to our school’s director, who offered to take me to the hospital. Now, from experience, this is generally nothing more than a job for Rest Ice Compression Elevation (RICE, if you will); nothing I haven’t encountered plenty of times before. But I figured, whatever, maybe get an x-ray just in case, see what’s going on in there. So off we went the next day to what turned out not to be a hospital at all. In the car, I was informed that I was now being taken to a Chinese Acupuncture clinic. Suprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with this, as I was now picturing extremely relaxed people lying face down in bed at a spa with a bunch of needles in their back, and all the combined surface area pain overloading the brain’s pain sensors, and cancelling itself out. I thought, ok, maybe this could be alright, lets see how they roll over here, maybe they know something North Americans don’t about healing. It was only a few bucks anyways, and I had always been intrigued by acupuncture.  I truly had no idea what I had got myself into.  

I was ushered into the little consultation room to have some sort of assessment that I didn’t understand because it was all being spoken in Korean. Next I was instructed to head to the next, smaller room, and sit on the table dressed in the butcher paper. After some more Korean conversation, things got underway in a hurry. The doctor grabbed my left hand (I remind you, the injury was my right ankle), and promptly inserted a 2-3″ needle into my flesh, right around my scaphoid (where your thumb meets your hand), twisted it around, told me, in my best translation, to “chill.” He then trodded off on his doctorly way. So there I am, by myself, with a huge needle in my hand, not moving because I’m frightened of stabbing my inner hand somewhere, and absorbing all the pain possible that comes with having ONE needle jammed into you, rather than the above mentioned multiples, and also chuckling a little to myself over the complete absurdity of what was happening to me. You can imagine what was going through my mind. Also, the doctor did come back occasionally to twist and turn the needle to and fro, and to send it in deeper, while I sent my incisors deeper into my right knuckles. Did I mention my RIGHT ankle was hurt, and there was a needle in my LEFT….THUMB??!!?? Eventually, 10 or 15 minutes passed, and the doc removed the needle, which seemed to have ended up about 4-5″ in there now. I thought the insanity was over. I was wrong.

I was then told through translation to lie down and the doctor grabbed my actual ankle. I thought, ok, he’s actually going to do something directly to it now. I was right. Moments later, a device surfaced that I can only describe as a stabbing gun. It was a glue gun shape, and there was one, or maybe seven needles sticking out of the end. My wonder had very little time to evolve to fear as my swollen ankle was promptly STABBED approximately 20 times in 10 seconds with said puncturing device. I’m going to need stitches in my knuckles at this point. There was so much shock running through me that I was seriously laughing at how comical it was was, perhaps a defence mechanism against the pain. After the aerating of my ankle was complete, they wheeled in another device; this time a vaccuum-sucker-pump of sorts (these are all technical medical terms I don’t expect you to be familiar with), which is then applied to my wounds, and the blood, now leaking from the holes, was sucked out for a few minutes. They eventually took it off me and told me to stand up, and that they were finished. They asked me how I felt, and I said, “Good,” only in hopes of concluding the visit. I made my way to the front counter to sign something, and they said, “Ok, see you tomorrow!” Well, my mouth said yes, but my mind broke out in hysterics. I grabbed a candy from the dish, and got out of there, as quick as conditions were allowing me. I did not go back the next day.

Also, on the topic of the title, Koreans make bad chinese food.

Panic! at the Dentist: Regularly Scheduled Belittling Appointments.

July 26, 2009 3 comments

(originally posted July 18, 2006)

The Dentist I can’t stand.  Ok, maybe it’s not the dentist as much as it is the “Dental Hygenist,” who actually does all the scraping and prodding, and gives you all the “helpful”  little hints on how to be a better brusher.  The actual dentist does very little, similiar to a doctor.  What is it about being a dentist or a doctor that allows you to bestow all the actual work onto your nurses or hygenists?  One time I went in, I swear I had this lady give me a full demonstration on brushing techniques, like it was my first time in there; perhaps as if she herself had just invented the toothbrush, and was describing its revolutionary cleaning abilities to me.  She was hand-motioning the little brush circles to me and everything.  At the time, i’m sure I was at least 22 years old.  And of course, I don’t floss with any regularity.  That never goes over well.  It’s amazing the standard you feel like you’re not living up to when the dentist asks you questions like, “so have you been flossing?”, and you answer negatively, which illicits a reponse similiar to that when your parents say they’re not mad at you, they’re just disappointed.  Like their life and choice of career is so much better than mine, sticking their fingers in people’s mouth’s all day.  And of course, all these questions are being posed to you while you’re housing a mouthful of equipment that renders your responses into muffled jargles.  Who do these people think they are, asking you anything beyond a yes or no question?  Do they expect to recieve an audible response?  Is there some sort of blink-sign system i was not told about that i was supposed to learn?  I can’t tell you what my plans are for the rest of the day and the upcoming year with the suction tube halfway to my epiglottis, it’s just not possible.  So if i can remember just one time that i did use one of the 8 million unopened floss dispensers in my bathroom for something other than a MacGyver bomb, I will respond affirmative that I have been flossing since the last time i came in.  You know they’re gonna ask, and you feel like such a failure of a person if you have to say you haven’t been doing something so simple like flossing. 

The only other more demeaning moment is when they tell you that you have a cavity.  You feel like a dog that’s just being scolded for peeing on the carpet.  And they tell you in that voice that says their previous disappointment has only deepened, further wallowing you in a kiddie pool of your own shame.  Getting a filling might be one of the most torturous events I’ve ever experienced.  Someone please tell me how you’re expected to breathe with that giant rubber tarp and equally large cotton balls stuffed in your mouth, keep your jaw propped open, and just, “relax,” as they instruct you to do.  All this while they drill a mineshaft of a hole in your tooth and fill in back in with some substance that nothing will grow on.  It might be solid margarine for all i know.  Is this the point that modern dentistry has evolved to? 

And of course you’re lying down in the chair with that floodlight blinding you while the dentist’s giant head is hovering over you like an omnipresent Roman god.  With that light in your face, and the shadow around their head, it’s pretty tough to tell if the dentist even really has a body.  I mean think about it, you get ushered in the chair by the little helper lady, you’re always facing away from the door, your chair gets reclined, and you never actually see the dentist, because they always beetle out before you can collect yourself at the end of the appointment.  You don’t even get to see most of their face, since it’s always half covered with that little green mask.  The hands holding the tools could really be anything.  Believe me, no human could jab another human in the gums that many times and see their face grimace and twitch without thinking maybe that wasn’t a tooth they were grinding down.  And the scraping, ohthe scraping.  With that little hook that would be better fitted on a pirate; around the same size too.  Recently they invented these sound-wave devices that supposedly do the same work as the hook scraper.  Regardless, my dentist always finds the time to come back at the end and give me a good scratch coating with that rusty coat hanger of a tool. 

Oh, and how intimidating is the dental x-ray machine by the way?  I mean, first they throw this led vest on you (only on your lower body though, for some reason, your skull, brain, and entire central nervous system will be able to handle whatever radiation is shot at it apparently), and before you can finish your question as to what’s going on, there’s a gag in your mouth and a cannon of a device pointing right at your cheek.  Not to mention that everyone within twenty feet of you has fled, taken cover, and suddenly stopped communicating with you.  Even the radio and tv’s stop momentarily.  You’re trying hard not to choke on the film thing, because you feel like you might be executed if you do.  So you’re sitting there, cutting a bead of sweat that could dent the floor, you hear a high pitched “beep!” like someone pointed a fake gun at your head and a “Bang!” flag popped out and unfurled, and then it’s all over.  Everyone stops playing hide and seek, and then it’s on with the rest of the procedure. 

The only moment in the dentist appointment experience that will make all the suffering worth it, is that moment where you get the warm water rinse with the little squirt gun.  That one moment when the first drops of two heated hydrogen and one heated oxygen molecules hit your teeth are purely magical.  If that and the little no-cavity prize box didn’t exist, i would have no use for the dentist, or teeth for that matter.  Sure the box still contains the same prizes it did in 1987, but the off-chance that i could get a new bouncy ball or styrofoam plane for not having any cavities, is enough to make me schedule my next 6 month visit, and do it all again.

The Great Gretzky Debacle: Meeting my hero, Wayne.

July 20, 2009 1 comment

I told this story in person the other day, so I decided to re-release it, ala Greatest Hits style.  As a wordpress special bonus, check out the photographic evidence to verify the story! Enjoy.

(originally posted February 18th, 2009)

August 19, 2005.

In preparation for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team was having an “orientation camp(still not clear on what that meant, or why they didn’t just call it ‘practice’)” in my hometown of Kelowna BC.  The Executive Director for Team Canada at the time was none other than my boyhood (and if anyone was, I guess current as well) hero, Wayne Gretzky.

Now, let me help you to understand what I mean when I say “hero” here.  I mean from the age that I was aware Gretzky was really good at hockey and played for the LA Kings (circa 1990), I owned jerseys, hockey cards, posters, Halloween costumes, books, shoes, officially endorsed products and equipment, and attempted haircuts in likeness… I was a advertising field day for this man. 

It became my goal to come full circle, and meet my hero.

The tickets had sold out nearly immediately, without my inclusion in the possession or purchase of any of them.  I was working for the Okanagan Hockey School at the time, a school that boasts many NHL alumni as instructors and/or part owners.  They happened to have an in with the orientation camp, and were able to get some of the instructors free passes to the practices.  I immediately snapped 2 passes up to the sold out event.  After work, my brother and I zipped down to Prospera place to take our seats, my old Gretzky LA Kings jersey and Sharpie marker in tow.  We managed to catch the players just heading out onto the ice, so we decided to see if a few of them would autograph some stuff for us.  First out of the gate was Martin Brodeur, pretty much the best goaltender in the world at the time, and pretty high in the all-time record books.  When we asked him to sign, he shrugged us, and the other people standing by the gate, right off.  I didn’t think much of it, thinking, “well it’s just a practice, no big deal.  He’s got all that goalie gear on anyways, it’s probably going to be a huge hassle for him anyways. ”  Following up Brodeur were Ed Jovanovski, Todd Bertuzzi, and the other TWO goalies, Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo.  ALL of which put down their gloves and sticks, and signed stuff for a few minutes until everyone was content.  I decided to think less of Martin Brodeur after that moment.

After heading back to our ticketed seats, a friend who we had ended up sitting near advised me to look to my right.  Heeding the advice, I turned my head, and who would I see, but “The Great One,” himself.  Yes, by all modern calendars, I was 22 years old at the time, but in that moment, I was no more than 10 years old again.  Wayne.was.here.  And I could see him.  I could have thrown something at him if I wanted.  He was sitting in the stands, with his cronies (Kevin Lowe and company), taking notes or something.  Realizing the current environment was no place to make a scene, I decided to keep a watchful eye on his every move, as to not be eluded ( for those wondering, I do not enjoy being eluded).  The ice-session came to an end, and so did Wayne’s viewing.  I really had no ideas as to what to do.  They were sitting in a roped off area, and exited through the back.  Wayne was escaping, and my already small window of opportunity was closing.  I had nothing.  I accepted it, and decided to take off, at least being happy I saw him, however unfulfilled I was truly feeling.   As we made our way out, I took I noticed the “backstage” area, all roped off, with black curtains and everything.  People were surrounding the guard rails, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heros.  I also noticed people walking into the area with the same passes around their necks as ours; the only difference being theirs has “All Access” Sharpie marked on the bottom.  I looked around my neck at my pass.  I looked in my left hand containing a Sharpie marker.   I realized I had one shot at his.

My brother and I ducked behind a corner and I quickly scribbled “All Access” at the bottom of our passes, in the closest handwriting facsimile I could muster.  I managed to catch the attention of a lady heading in, and acted bewildered about the direction I was supposed to go, showing her my pass.  She took a look at it, at me, and said, “come on, I’ll take you in.”   My mouth said humble and appreciative things, and my mind stood in awe of what it had apparently just pulled off.  

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

I tried my best not to act like an idiot and to try to make it seem like I was supposed to be back there.  But it was tough.  Everyone was back there, Iginla, St. Louis, Lecavalier, Yzerman, Bertuzzi, Sakic, Heatley, Nash, Smyth… everyone.  It was incredible.  Part of my blend-in technique was to see what catering had to offer.   I noticed Ken Hitchcock at the table (cue the jokes), and decided to ask him how he could possibly narrow down this amount of talent to one team’s worth, over some veggies and dip.  He didn’t really give me a straight answer.  I asked Stevey Y how he liked Kelowna, to which he responded he wished he could live here.  He, Iginla, St. Louis, Smyth and Lecavalier all signed my hat, all with smiles on their faces, all classy guys. 

I found a place on the wall and decided just to hang out for a bit.  That’s when I was again advised to turn my head, this time to the left.  Wayne.  I was back in the hunt.  He was signing some sticks for some people.  He finished up and was heading our way.  I immediately started to draw up a mental game plan as to what my move was going to be, not that dis-similiar from the Mr. Bean episode were he meets the queen.  I didn’t want to go into a thing about telling him he was my hero for all these years, yada yada… one part because surely he hears that everyday, another because as aforementioned I was trying not to look like an idiot, and another simply because of time.  I was going to have mere moments to make contact.  I decided on the handshake and autograph request, hopefully with coherent speech.  Again, I knew I was only going to get one shot at this as well.  Wayne ducked into a hallway.  My heart sank momentarily, but then he came back out and was again headed in our direction.  My heart was functioning again.  This was it.  I was in range.  I made eye contact.  I remember at that moment thinking I pictured him being taller.  I stuck out my hand.  Suprisingly and incredibly, he returned the shake, I think a little bewildered himself.  I muttered, “Hi Wayne, can you sign my jersey?” or something of the likes.  He replied, “um…hold on,  I’ll be right back.”  I agreed to the terms and faded back into the wall, hoping to reconvene in the near future.  We waited.   And waited.  We hung out for a little while longer and started to get antsy.  I found Pat Quinn and asked him haphazardly if Wayne was still around.  Pat said Wayne took off.  My heart nearly broke into a million pieces.   

My brother and I took a de-briefing as to the events that had just taken place.  We snuck into somewhere we weren’t allowed.  We met the best hockey players in the world.  I saw Wayne Gretzky, shook his hand, said something to him, and he even replied with a partial sentence to me.  All in all, not a bad day.  I went home all smiles.  Sure Wayne blew me off, but I accomplished my goal and did meet my boyhood hero. 

And that’s how I met Wayne Gretzky. 

Ask my brother Rob if you don’t believe me.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 814 other followers

%d bloggers like this: