Monday, August 31, 2009

Non-Hockey Related Things That Happened in LA This Weekend...

Fire. That's pretty much it. And if this is the view from my apartment, you can imagine why.

Please send any positive karma you have to all the brave men and women who are fighting this thing. And pray the weather cools down. It's not pretty around here.....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

HockeyFest Day 3: Saving the Best for Last

The final day of Hockey Fest started a little later, so my morning walk to Staples was more of a leisurely stroll. Having played games, bought jerseys, and gotten autographs the day before, my main mission was to check out a couple of really good speaker panels. But I made one last visit to the big tent first.

There, in all his glory, was Kelly Hrudey, signing autographs and hugging the ladies. Just watching him for a few minutes, it was very clear why he was a fan favorite during his time in LA.

Not much else was going on in the tent, but I was able to locate Jen and Bri again, and we all headed down to the Nokia Theatre to check out the venerable Bob Miller.

Bob has been in broadcasting for 50 years, 37 of those with the LA Kings doing television and radio commentary. Bob is also the unofficial historian of this organization, because he's been here from the beginning. He started with the Kings in 1967, making $22,000 a year and working for Jack Kent Cooke, apparently one of the grouchiest owners in all of sports. I was practically on the floor listening to him do impressions of his first boss. You can get an idea by watching this video from my buddies at KingsCast.

I also love this picture of Bob "back in the day."

But Bob survived his terrible boss, and during his tenure with the Kings he's seen it all. He was there January 13, 1979 when the "Triple Crown Line" first played together. He called the game when Wayne Gretzky became the leading scorer in the history of the NHL. And he's seen a terrible skating hockey player known to Kings fans as "Lucky" become the highest scoring left winger in the history of the game.

He's had a few crazy moments too! My favorite story by far was a game he called in Philadelphia at the old Spectrum. The broadcast booth was on the 3rd level of the building, but the only bathrooms were on the main level. Stuck in the booth the entire game, Bob kept holding it in. With 8 minutes left in the game, he realized he wasn't gonna make it, and had to find a creative way to pee in a cup while calling the game. That, my friends, is dedication.

Bob is a true original, and a gift to the Kings fans. I could have listened to him talk for hours.

Once Bob was done, he yielded the floor to the "Growing Up Kings" panel, composed of (left to right) Mark Hardy, Bernie Nicholls, and Luc Robitaille. Mark is the current defensive coach for the Kings, Luc is our VP of Hockey Operations, and Bernie is just crazy!

They look pretty serious in this picture, but these guys were an absolute hoot! You could publish a book of all their crazy stories. Mark shattered a glass on top of Michelle Pfeifer once, Bernie would sneak into his teammates rooms and hide in the shower to scare them, and Luc's first memory arriving in LA was oogling his teammates' Playboy bunny wife!

I guess if Hockey Fest had to end, it should end with everyone laughing. Of course, smiles are great too!

And on the long walk back home, I only had one thought. Is it time for the season to start yet?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

HockeyFest Day 2: Experts, Enforcers, and Friends

Hockey Fest Day 2 started early for me, with a walk down to Staples Center from my apartment. I LOVE living this close to LA hockey heaven! Shortly after I arrived I ran into my girlfriends Jen and Brianna Wells, who were checking out the street hockey tournament.

And why not, with eye candy like this?

Then we headed up to the big tent on the parking deck, site of all kinds of hockey games, all the NHL Awards (sans the Stanley Cup, which was in Russia with the Penguins Evgeni Malkin at the time), hockey gear vendors, and of course player autograph stations.

The main trophy I wanted to see was the Norris, awarded to the Best Defensemen in the NHL each year.

This sucker has a pretty amazing list of names on it - Ray Bourque, Nick Lidstrom, Rob Blake (ok, maybe not amazing, at least in Blake's case). Most importantly, Drew's name is gonna make it onto this trophy one day, and when it does I'll be able to say I have photos of me with the Norris, B.D. and A.D. (that's before Doughty and after Doughty...yeah, I crack myself up sometimes).

Speaking of Drew, he ended up being my next stop. Originally his autograph session was scheduled for tomorrow, but they changed it and I was paying attention to the loudspeaker announcements so I got in line. He was the only player I really wanted to see the entire weekend, so thank goodness I was in the tent and not attending the panel discussion going on in the Nokia Theatre!

Drew is such a trooper! He literally flew straight from Team Canada's Olympic Orientation Camp in Calgary to LA just in time for the pep rally last night, and he looked a little tired, to be honest. But he's always so nice and patient with everyone, and he always manages that adorable smile!

Someone had hooked him up with a couple of Diet Cokes, which he needed...all these people were in line AFTER me! Our young superstar always draws the crowds.

Once we got done saying hi to Drew, the girls and I did a little shopping. Jen and Bri were a little excited about the NHL version of Monopoly!

And Bri just HAD to put a bid on a jersey signed by prospect goalie Jonathan Bernier (aka Baby Berns).

And of course we had to check out some hockey games. Radio commentator and Kings Alum Darryl Evans had a blast playing goaltender for this little guy.

And we even ran into our favorite volunteer working the accuracy challenge! Hi Nadine!

And while we were waiting in game lines, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned around to see my Faceboook hockey buddy Chelsea Alexander!

It was so great to finally meet her! We had tried unsuccessfully to meet up at the last Kings-Sharks game of the season in April (Chels is a Sharks fan, but I don't hold it against her because she's nice about it), but she got stuck in traffic and missed the warm-up skate. She volunteers for Echoes of Hope, Luc and Stacia Robitaille's charity, and she was there working the booth. She even got a break so she could hang out with us for part of the day.

Now that you have the skinny on the fun goings on in the tent, let's talk about speaker panels. I was really excited about these, since all the panels are Kings alumni and staff. They were all organized pretty much the same, starting out with a moderated Q&A, followed by an open forum where the audience got to ask questions.

First up, the "Hockey Experts Panel," featuring Kings alumni who are all media guys now. Left to right in the photo below, you have Jim Fox (Fox Sports here in LA who works all our games with Bob Miller), Ray Ferraro (TSN), and Kelly Hrudey (CBC Hockey Night in Canada).

It was really interesting to hear their take on the potential for the team this year while they were poking fun at each other. Kelly got a lot of grief for the color of his shirt, until he asked Ray, "And who is your free shirt from?" They also gave some interesting interviews to the media after the session, including one in which Ferraro claimed Drew has "no pulse." Okay? But as I listened to the rest of his answer, I saw it was a compliment, meaning Drew doesn't get rattled when he doesn't pull off a play perfectly. He just goes back out and does it right the next time. I can live with that.

The next panel discussion was "The Enforcers" with Brad Norton and Stu Grimson (aka the Grim Reaper).

For those of you unacquainted with hockey, enforcers are basically tough guys that play on the 3rd or 4th line whose job it is to bring some pain to opposing players, either to create energy when their team is behind, or retaliate for too-physical play against once of their teammates. When an enforcer is on the ice, there's potential for a fight to break out. It's their job.

But like thieves, there is honor among enforcers. Both Brad and Stu made a point of emphasizing there are rules to the role. Never hit a guy when they're down. Never hit someone from behind. You square up and look your opponent in the eye before you start swinging. And you never start a fight with the intent to hurt someone.

It was also interesting to hear both these tough guys acknowledge that while they accepted their roles, they took no particular joy in fighting if it could be avoided. Once you developed a reputation, sometimes just staring a guy down was enough the get the point across. Stu got his clock cleaned so badly once that his entire cheekbone and eye socket collapsed, and a surgeon had to go in through his ear to reposition the broken bone. Not a lot of fun! Although Brad had the funniest story about hating the idea of a was against his own brother! Just before they squared off, his brothers last words were, "Mom is gonna be mad!" Of course, she raised a bunch of boys in an Irish-Catholic family, so she's probably tougher than both of them!

The bottom line is this. Even though the debate continues around the league, fighting will probably always be a part of the game, but these guys prove if it's done right, it reminds players there are consequences for bad behavior. Keep settling it on the ice boys!

The last and most anxiously awaited panel of the day was the reunion of the famed "Triple Crown Line" of Dave Taylor, Marcel Dionne, and Charlie Taylor (seated in that order in the photo below). They set records virtually no other line in the history of hockey can touch. I get chills just thinking about it.

It was so wonderful so see the camaraderie these guys STILL have with each other. One would start a thought, and another would finish it. Just like when they played, they seem to instinctively know where each guy will be and what he's thinking. They're a phenomenon, plain and simple. I hope our current players were watching in the wings and learning from the teamwork these guys show even today.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing day. And the perfect finishing touch? I was the high bidder on a signed Kevin Westgarth Manchester Monarchs jersey. It's a size 58, so I might have to belt it and wear it as a dress though...

Time for some rest to get ready for Day 3.

Friday, August 28, 2009

HockeyFest Day 1: Let's Go Kings!

This has been the longest summer I can remember. Almost since our last home game on April 11th, I've been dreading the long hiatus without my Kings. Following the Stanley Cup playoffs held me over for a while, but by June I was pretty much ready for the season to start. So thank goodness the Kings found a way to end my suffering and make summer a little more bearable by putting on an entire weekend of hockey activities! The first annual LA Kings Hockey Fest started tonight with a big pep rally at the Nokia Theatre, right across from Staples Center.

This event is about more than just the current lineup of Kings. The organization brought back many noteworthy alumni, including a reunion 30 years in the making with the participation of the Kings famous "Triple Crown Line" - Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor. In their heyday, these guys were a goal scoring machine together, and it was so fun to watch the video montages of them playing. I got chills realizing the team I love has this kind of history behind it.

The alumni were announced first, and since they're old dudes they got to sit. Then the current players came out and stood in a row behind them.

It's so great to see Drew and the boys back together. Everyone looked tan, rested, and healthy, which I hope means they're ready to kick some major ass this season. In the photo below, Drew is 4th from the left.

But my favorite moment of the rally was a speech by our captain, Dustin Brown.

He's such a quiet and humble guy, and I have to imagine speech-making is his least favorite part of the captain gig. But he talked a lot about all the efforts the team has made to become more cohesive over the summer, training together and really getting to know and trust each other. In his mind, this group of individuals is finally becoming a team, and I know his leadership has a lot to do with that. He also owned up to the fact that success is now up to this team, and they've got no more excuses not to win. I know in my heart they're gonna leave it all on the ice this season. And I got a little choked up thinking about how far Brownie has come - from an 18 year old in a strange city getting bullied by Sean Avery to a man ready to lead his team into battle. I can't imagine a better captain for our team.

And on the eye candy front, can we take a moment and marvel at the Greek-God perfection of my favorite enforcer, Kevin Westgarth?

Kevin will get his chance to make the big club in camp starting in a week. I'm pulling for him!

The rest of the weekend is going to be full of autograph signings, speaker panels, games, and more cool hockey-ness that you can imagine. And I can't wait to do it all!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Now That I've Eaten My Way Through Seattle...

I had an amazing time in Seattle over the weekend, but I have to admit something. In the midst of all the fun, the food, and MANY cocktails, I had to continually force nagging and negative thoughts out of my mind.

"You're blowing all the work you've done on the elliptical the last two weeks!"
"You just consumed more calories in one meal than you do in a day!"
"Why did you even think you could keep any weight off? Are you an idiot?"
"How are you going to face writing that you've gained back 10 pounds?"

In short, this was my first HUGE challenge on the wellness front. Totally away from home and completely out of my normal routine, I felt out of control, but tried my best not to show it. I mean, how do you tell a friend of 12 years that you're afraid to eat their food? And you don't want to go anywhere and be tempted by food.

I resigned myself to simply accept my fate and own up to the embarrassment of failing. And drowned my sorrows in numerous cocktails.

The dread escalated the minute I walked in my apartment Sunday night. You see, the scale is in the entryway, because it's the most level piece of floor where I have enough room to stand without bumping into anything. It taunted me. I weigh myself in the mornings, so breaking the routine would be like asking to fail even worse than I knew I already had. But I resisted, figuring I would put off the inevitable bad news until the next morning rather than going to bed upset.

When I got up the next morning, I knew I had to face to music. So I climbed on the scale, Kleenex in hand, and looked down in shock after a few moments....

I had only gained a pound. One pound. The entire weekend.

As I got in the shower, I tried to rationalize how this was possible. Broken scale? Dreaming? Need eyes checked? After a reweigh post shower, including a reset and test of the scale, I realized none of my theories was the answer. Then I remembered something....

Muscle burns more calories than fat. And I've been building muscle with all the exercise.

Once my brain was able to correct it's perspective, I thought back through the weekend. Dinner Friday night was very small portions, which was a great choice since I try not to eat too late. Leah and I got up Saturday morning and went to the gym, and I got in a solid workout in spite of being a bit off my normal pace. I had a salad at lunch Saturday. Everything we had for dinner, except the blueberry pie, was fresh, simply prepared without a lot of heavy sauce, and very healthy overall. I was a little bad at brunch and split Lola's homemade donuts with Leah, but the rest of breakfast was not terrible. Damn, if not for the booze count, I probably wouldn't have gained anything!!

I felt like a huge weight got lifted from my shoulders, and I set a new record pace on the elliptical Monday night! And at this morning's weigh in, I had lost the pound I gained over the weekend plus half a pound more. Maybe I can do this after all!

Most importantly, the whole weekend experience made me so thankful to all the great people I have in my life that keep supporting me on my journey even when I'm afraid I'm failing. Leah had read my blog and was following my progress, so she asked me right away Friday night if I wanted to go to the gym over the weekend. And then today, I got this amazing card from "Coach Nadine," my exercise guardian angel..

I so appreciated her gesture I almost cried! I must say, I love the "Shoe Sale Starter Pose," and will definitely be using that one.

The only casualty of the week so far has been my headphones. They started shorting out today, probably because I've been sweating buckets into the ear padding and ruining the circuits underneath. Luckily I've got a spare pair.

I'm sure I'll have doubts again as I continue down this road, but I learned a huge lesson this weekend. Keep the faith, do the right thing as much as you can, lean on your friends, and the rest will take care of itself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friendship and Food, Seattle Style!

This past weekend, I flew up to Seattle to help my good friend Leah Jacobs celebrate her birthday. I've known Leah ever since we worked together during my 3 year stint in the Pacific Northwest. Hard to believe it's been 12 years since we met! And although we don't see each other as much as we'd like, I always manage to get up to visit a couple of times a year.

The flight from Burbank to Seattle takes a little over two hours, and I left after work so I didn't arrive until 9 PM and hadn't eaten dinner. Leah is a restaurant connoisseur, and she suggested a place up on Capitol Hill not far from my old apartment. So off to Poppy we went.

Walking in the back entrance is like traipsing through your neighbor's beautiful herb garden. It was the perfect setting for the treats that followed.

The food is Indian inspired, composed of small plates, almost like a tapas bar. The atmosphere is modern but cozy and the food was AMAZING!! I highly recommend the dungeness crab spring rolls (photo above) and tandoori chicken with slaw, which we shared. And the apricot frozen yogurt for dessert was heavenly!! Everything was fresh and flavorful. No surprise to Seattle natives, since the head chef used to run The Herb Farm, a local favorite. Next time you're in town, check out Poppy (

Saturday morning, we headed to the gym, then across town to the University district to check out the Farmers Market and pick up some ingredients for dinner that night. Leah and her hubby Spencer had invited over their friends Frederick and Susie, so Leah had come up with a nice summery menu for us to cook for dinner. So much fun to be shopping for fresh fruits and veggies in perfect 75 degree weather! We took these home...

And I can't resist taking pictures of pretty flowers wherever I find them.

Before we headed home, we took a break for lunch with Leah's step-sister Peach. The patio at the Eastlake Bar and Grille ( was the perfect spot to watch some boats and have a few Raspberry Vodka Lemonade cocktails while we caught up on girl talk. We're the ladies who lunch!

When we got home, it was time to get cooking! Leah is one of my absolute favorite people to share a kitchen with. She's an organization freak like me (she alphabetizes her spices!), and I understand how she works things in her kitchen, so we make a great team.

Our first order of business was turning our $10 flat of blueberries into a pie!

For some reason she trusted me to cut the dough. Thank goodness I had some hardware to measure and make sure I got the vent holes in the right spot!

While I was cutting the dough, she was cutting the butter, so I had an excuse to pull out the camera. She hated me doing it, but she looked so cute in her apron! And I warned her the photos were going in my blog, and she didn't steal my camera, so I figure I'm safe including them.

This is looking promising....we'll know in an hour or so.

While the pie was baking, I got to chopping all the ingredients for a Country-Style Greek Salad while Leah brined breasts of chicken. Those we covered with a Cajun spice rub and grilled outside.

Spencer, our sommelier, made sure we had some lovely wine choices. Frederick pitched in as well. And yes, by the end of the night we went through all four bottles....

But how could you not linger over a lovely dinner in such a nice setting!

And the was a hit!

Thanks to an energetic dinner conversation, we were up past midnight, which made Sunday a sleep in day. Spencer and Leah had tickets to see Elvis Costello in concert Sunday night, so I booked a mid-afternoon flight home. But I couldn't leave without taking in brunch at our favorite spot... Lola ( Their Bloody Mary was just what the doctor ordered...

Oh, and I almost forgot! Leah's birthday gift was the one I wrapped in the crazy fairy dust silver paper a few blog posts ago. She recognized it instantly from reading my blog! So she was smart enough to open it outside.

Leah and Spencer are headed to Florence and Amsterdam next month, so I thought she could use a couple of books of city maps. We used one just like them when we all went to Paris last year, and they worked beautifully.

Happy Birthday my friend, and thanks for another magical culinary tour of Seattle! Your sous chef will return after hockey season to cook with you again. Start planning the menu...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tucked In

This whole "Better Meg" challenge is about small victories. The scale hasn't moved much so far this week, which has left me a little discouraged. But then I found some new encouragement in an unlikely place - my closet.

Finding pants that fit has been a battle my whole life. Even as a kid, I had heavy thighs, which did not lend themselves well to wearing skinny jeans (or "stovepipes" as we called them back in the day). I've always tended to gravitate more towards skirts and dresses. Plus they hide the belly fat better, and that's really the main reason I hate pants. And if I MUST wear pants, I always make sure the shirt I'm wearing is long and loose enough to cover my stomach.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover a pair of dress pants I haven't worn in ages actually have room now! And I not only wore them to work, I wore them with my shirt TUCKED IN! Because I actually looked thinner that way, if you can imagine that. Major victory!!

Still a LONG way to go, but now at least my mind is off the non-moving scale. And I wonder what else is hiding in the closet...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Power of 10

I was thinking about the meaning of the number 10 today. Thanks to the Internet age, I was able to quickly find some inspiring references courtesy of the vaunted Encyclopedia Britannica. Here is just one of their definitions of the number 10:

in number symbolism: 10 )

As already stated, 10 was the Pythagorean symbol of perfection or completeness. Humans have ten fingers and ten toes. Counting on fingers probably led to the decimal number system, with its symbols 0–9 and its place values whereby the 7 in 703 counts as 7 hundreds, but in 173 it is 7 tens and in 507 it is 7 units. We consider powers of 10, such as 100 or 1,000, to be “round...

Perfection or completeness, eh? Well, maybe not yet, but I can attest to the "powers" of the number 10 for one simple reason - it's the number of pounds I've lost in the past 2 weeks!! That realization this morning led to another significant number of "tens."
  • Ten minutes of my mouth hanging open, shocked what I'd done.
  • Ten instances of getting on and off the scale, just to make sure I was awake, it was working, and my eyes were not deceiving me.
  • Ten silent "thank you's" to all my friends for their inspiration and encouragement.
  • Ten extra minutes picking an outfit and getting excited at how much better I now looked in clothes I hesitated to bring out of the closet before.
I kept pinching myself as I went about my day. Can it really be this easy? I'm not even tired! Where am I getting all this energy? Ten pounds is a long way from 50, but it's a huge gain in terms of inspiration. Nadine even commented at tennis Sunday that my face was starting to look thinner. Yay!!!! I CAN DO THIS!!!

This past week was much easier on the food front, with no big plans on the weekend to derail me. And it's good that I gained some momentum, because this coming weekend is going to be a challenge. I'm going to Seattle to visit friends, so I'll be out of my "normal" routine. My goal is to keep in check as reasonably as possible but still have fun. So I'm sure I'll have quite a bit to report next Monday. For now, my summary for the past week.

Things to Celebrate!
  • 10 pounds gone!
  • Better food choices, including more veggies
  • Lots of exercise - 6 days on, 1 day off and sticking with it!
Things to Work On...
  • Ramp up workouts since I'll be missing 2 days this week due to Seattle trip
  • Restaurant temptations: AVOID THE BREAD BASKET!
  • Keep drinking more water
This week also presented an unusual challenge physically. I somehow managed to sleep twisted all funny during a couch nap on Saturday, and now I have what feels like a pinched nerve over my left hip. Crap! I was hardly able to get out of bed for tennis Sunday morning, but I managed it, and moving around actually helped me feel better. Sitting is the problem. I guess that gives me more reasons to get up and move! Thankfully, Advil is helping, as are the seat warmers in my car. And above all, I found an excuse to check out the hot tub by the pool. It was a hour of heaven last night sitting with the hot water jet pounding on my hip.

Guess where I'm headed right now?

But one quick note before hot-tubbing on the hockey front. Team Canada starts their Olympic Orientation Camp this week, the Kings own sophomore superstar Drew Doughty got invited! So use all your powers of positive thinking and send good karma to my #8. We're really hoping he makes the Olympic team this year!

Hockey season is just around the corner, and I'm gonna be a lean, mean, cheering machine! GO KINGS!