Friday, October 30, 2009

The Thought Locker

One of the first things I learned as a trainer was the acronym CASE - Copy And Steal Everything. It's a great way of saying don't spend time reinventing the wheel when a perfectly good one already exists. CASE has become one of the axioms of my daily existence.

So I read a couple of posts where my buddy Justin Bourne blogs about cleaning out the "Thought Locker." It's a nice way to discuss ideas that don't warrant expansion into an entire blog post, but are worth sharing. And JT is a pretty laid back dude, as well as a hockey buddy (yes, I can tie ALMOST everything in my current life to hockey), so I'm sure he won't mind me CASE'ing him.

So without further ado, the contents of my "Thought Locker."

  • Starting a sentence or conversation by telling someone not to take something the wrong way pretty much guarantees you think they WILL take it the wrong way.
  • Nothing is more fun than helping someone learn something g new, which is sometimes a case of the blind leading the blind. Tanya and I laughed ourselves silly Friday night figuring out how to log her on to Skype. I'm on the Internet reading help boards on her computer model and trying to figure out where the mic on her laptop is, since I could see but not hear her. She had user manual out. Thank God we're both trainers, so EVENTUALLY we figured it out. I think we giggled for a solid minute once we saw AND heard each other on screen!
  • Realism is really pessimism in sheep's clothing. Or a way of sitting on the fence and hedging your bets. You're still saying to yourself, "Yeah, it could be awesome but it could also not work, so let's just be ready if it doesn't. Still not unconditional faith in success, hence not optimism.
  • Some days, life is like an obstacle course. Last night, I came home from the Kings game and the lobby of my building (and hence access to the elevators) was closed to redo the floor tile. On the way to work the next morning, I had to deal with idiot drivers and dumpsters in right turn lanes - let's just say I did a lot of swerving. Thank God for German engineering.


So that's all I have on the miscellaneous blog post front. The "Thought Locker" may or may not become a recurring topic, but we'll create a tag for it just in case...thanks for letting me CASE Bournie :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To Shoot or Not to Shoot....

The Kings were back at Staples tonight after a couple days off and a quick road game in San Jose yesterday. As teams, San Jose and Vancouver don't have much in common, although the outcome of tonight's game remarkably mirrored our loss last night in San Jose - put out in a shoot-out.

I should have known I was asking for trouble when assuming this would be an easy win with Vancouver starting goalie Robert Luongo out with a cracked rib. Andrew Raycroft? Seriously? We will own this guy! Yeah, not so much. All the fun in tonight's game happened in the first period, with each team scoring a lone goal. The rest of the game was really pretty boring. Were we tired from battling perennial conference powerhouse San Jose the night before? Probably, but professional athletes don't get to make excuses, so fans shouldn't either. We out shot the Canucks 31-15, so to Raycroft's credit, he kept them in the game.

And when it came down to the tie breaking shoot-out, Raycroft brought the win. I really missed Sully tonight. For all the things he didn't do well sometimes, he was a shoot-out winner for us last year.

At least it was Halloween Night, so there was lots of entertainment to make up for the lack of action on the ice. After all, who doesn't love Pumpkin Bailey?

And my friend Mike Timoney, who is a member of the Kings Ice Crew, was brave enough to come to a hockey game in a skirt.

Most importantly, it was Fox Sports color commentator Heidi Anrol's birthday, so I made her a sign. The Fox camera guy tried to get me on camera, so I guess we'll see how that worked out when the post game show airs.

The night wasn't a total loss, since we earned a point in the Conference standings for getting the game to a shoot-out. Maybe a little Halloween celebration tomorrow will get the boys back in a winning frame of mind. Either that, or our next round of shooters need to do the deed in costume to freak out the opposing goalie... Mike, can you loan Kopi your kilt?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sex on Fire

I am always entertained when I talk to different people who follow my blog. Most of them are friends and relatives, since this is more of a"personal diary" type blog than a professionally thematic one (i.e. devoted to a specific subject). And several of my best "followers," including my mother, have all made me laugh recently when they admitted the same thing - "I love your blog, but I gotta be honest. I mostly skip the hockey stuff....I hope you're not mad."

So I thought maybe it was time to branch out a little in the subject matter area and talk about something else I love, which is music. Though if you find the particular music I'm choosing to discuss isn't your taste, tough cookies! Be happy I'm branching out at all. You'll read what I write....SO THERE.

OK, enough silliness. Let's talk music! I will freely admit, I like lots of different kinds of music and am open to checking out pretty much anything at least once. However, when it comes to buying music, I tend to gravitate towards the same kind of thing over and over. Singer-songwriter (John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow, Dave Barnes). Often acoustic (see singer-songwriter listings). Pop-dance-diva stuff (Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Madonna). Ballady, lovelorn, sometimes over-wrought scholck (Barry Manilow...yes, I am a HUGE fan. "Could This Be The Magic" WILL be played at my wedding).

I also don't normally buy a CD on the strength of one single. I prefer to get a bigger feel for the artist, and while every one of their songs may not be a hit in my brain, if I appreciate the general oeuvre I can justify spending my hard earned money knowing most of it will be my taste. But occasionally, something different will grab me and not let go. The latest band that grabbed me is Kings of Leon.

"Use Somebody," the Kings huge hit single, is all over pop radio, which is how it started seeping into my brain. Then a while ago, a read a great feature article on them in Rolling Stone and was intrigued. When the story lead reads like this, how are you NOT intrigued:

"Sixteen years ago, they were preacher’s sons living under a strict religious mandate that prohibited music other than church songs, movies and short pants. Today, they’re the hottest band in America, bringing their dirty brand of Southern rock & roll to sold-out arenas around the world while traveling in luxury planes and running up $10,000 bar tabs."

So I bought the album on a random shopping trip to Target, popped it in the car CD player, and let it roll. Over, and over, and over. This is my normal method for getting acquainted with music. When I'm sitting in traffic, I have nothing else to do, so I can concentrate on what I'm hearing. And the repetition helps me get a feel for the flow and sequencing of the album, and the mood of each song. Some tracks caught me instantly (the haunting guitar chirps of "Closer" an the rolling bass line of "Crawl") and some took longer but became my absolute favorites ("Manhattan" and "Revelry"). But the one song I immediately liked, and still think is the strongest single on the album, is "Sex on Fire."

As coincidence would have it, I was traveling to Carlsbad, CA this week with my co-worker Tammy Good, who shares my love of music. We got talking about this album, and she turned me on to a great cover of "Sex on Fire" by the band Sugarland, from their CD "Live on the Inside." Jennifer Nettles has one of my favorite voices in all of music right now, and she more than does the song justice, turning it from a rocking anthem into slow-burning, acoustic guitar-piano jam. It's a small musical world we live in.

Of course, I also love reading lyrics and liner notes, a very positive habit I picked up from an old boyfriend with impeccable musical taste. The song titles are easy enough to see, but where are the lyrics, and what is all that white space?

Peer closer, and you can see there are actual lyrics in the white-on-white typeface. So you guys want to tell me what you're singing ("Just know it was you all along that had a hold of my heart/But the demon and me we were best friends from the start"), but you want me to work for it. I think I love and hate you in equal parts for that.

I haven't had the patience (or proper lighting) to go through these yet, so I guess that will be the next stage of my journey getting to know Kings of Leon. And I think I like this branching out process. Music may become a regular blog feature, but hockey will NEVER go away...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

All About Drew

Tonight the Kings played host to conference rivals the Columbus Blue Jackets. I knew it would be a great match-up since the Jackets are always tough competitors, and both teams are off to a great start this year. They even have one of our former goalies on their team. Welcome back Mathieu Garon!

But what made tonight even better was what I picked up when I walked in the door....

Drew's first roster card of the season!

I don't know if many other teams do this, but the Kings print up an 8x10 card for every home game featuring a Kings player on the front, and the rosters for both teams on the back. Part of the fun coming to each game is never knowing who will be on the roster card. So far this season, it started with our 3 captains in order - Brownie, Kopi, then Greener - then other players in no apparent order. I collect the cards during the season, and have the players sign them at Tip-A-King, so I normally get at least two - one for the event, and one to hang on the roster wall in my office. But since this is Drew, I grabbed a lot...probably enough to wallpaper my entire apartment. But we'll keep that between us....

The Kings sure picked a great night to feature Drew, who added two more assists to his season tally and helped the team to a convincing 6-2 win. He also took a nasty elbow to the head from CBJ's Jakub Voracek, who I hope gets his ass suspended. After taking a nasty spill along the boards and getting up a little slow, Drew was right back out on his next shift. And more importantly, it looks like his teeth stayed in place. In the meantime, I'm gonna hunt down Mr. Voracek and break his elbow.

Mr. Elbow Headhunter aside, the Jackets have some much nicer, extremely good looking players, which brings me to my "Opposing Team Hottie of the Night." When Columbus comes to town, there's no one I admire more than team captain Rick Nash.

From the neck up, he looks like an adorable 16 year old with his spiky hair and his boyish smile. Everything below is all man...6' 4" and 218 lbs of man, to be exact. When this damsel is in distress, I want him riding up on the white horse! Of course, our goal tenders hate him, because he's a fast skater with a demonic shot. Jon Quick had to stop a Nash penalty shot tonight, so he knows first-hand. Kind of like stopping a freight train, but he did it.

I also have to give a little honorable mention in the "Hottie" category to Antoine Vermette. Quebec just produces beautiful hockey players...and they can whisper sweet nothings to you in French. Lord help me....

Our next home game is Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, currently playing without their superstar goalie Roberto Luongo. Hopefully that means another Kings win. At least my purse will be lighter coming home from that game...these roster cards are heavy...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Boys Are Back in Town

Long road trips suck for any team, but as I walked to Staples Center last night for the Kings first game on home ice in two weeks, I concluded ours was a blessing is disguise. If you must have one, a long road trip is probably better at the start of the season. After all, you're gonna play 82 games over the regular season, and if you make some mistakes at the beginning (which young teams tend to do) you haven't torpedoed all your chances. You still have time to make adjustments and right the ship. Make mistakes we did (see Kings vs Detroit...ugh!), but we came back with a record slightly above .500 and the knowledge that the worst of our travel is behind us.

That said, there's no place like home! And playing at home against the Dallas Stars is twice as nice!! Their starting goaltender, Marty Turco, has a history of folding like a cheap suit in our house, and hearing 10,000+ people chant T-U-R-C-O never gets old. The folks at Waste Management made the process even more fun tonight by providing these clappers!

Of course, Dallas then pulled a fast one on us and played their back-up goalie. Crap! But it was still amazing hearing people go nuts with these suckers during the game.

And I made another fun discovery in the cocktail department. The bar right next to our entrance sells top shelf margaritas in these handy, arena-friendly shakers. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Another benefit of playing Dallas...their team is full of good looking guys! My "Opposing Team Hottie of the Night" is normally an easy decision, but Mike Modano was out of the lineup. So I latched onto a new face this time.

Meet James Neal - #18

He's not only cute, he's a hell of a hockey player. He scored 2 goals on us, including one that tied the game 4-4 and sent it into overtime. It was such a laser of a shot, it hit the back of the net and bounced back out so fast they had to review it just to make sure it went in. Note to the Kings scouts - if Willy doesn't work out and we're still in the market for a goal scoring left winger, keep this guy in mind! Only 22! We could lock him down for years!

And Brad Richards is kinda cute too, for those of you into the blond thing....

Drew is finally out of the bubble helmet (Thank God!) thanks to new mouth piece. Apparently he loaned it to Stephane Robidas, who got his clock cleaned playing the Ducks and apparently sustained an injury requiring some more facial protection. I feel for ya Stephane....

And Mike Riberio, we need to talk about your hair. Exactly what the hell is that supposed to be? It's masquerading as the worst faux-hawk in history. Dustin Brown's kid Jake rocks a faux-hawk like nobodys business, so maybe he can help you out. Just get help soon...somewhere....

Speaking of Drew, the Kings Booster Club did it up right tonight. When Nadine met me in the seats, the first words out of her mouth were "Who's your best friend?" Well, you....duh.....and only my best friend would have my back and pick me up a Drew Doughty button right before they sold out!!

And then, the lights went down, and the unthinkable happened. The Star-Spangled Banner opened the game ceremonies! Apparently the Kings management heard us. Wow! Could this night have been any better?

Yeah, it could, and it was. I got on TV again! The Kings won 5-4 in OT! Anze Kopitar got a hat trick! Drew got ANOTHER assist! And the Kings are tops in the Western Conference!

I think I like long road trips......

Thursday, October 22, 2009

God Bless America?

Tonight marks the return of the Los Angeles Kings to Staples Center for their first home game after an extended road trip. Although it's early in the season, it's the nature of Kings fans to analyze every piece of minutiae about this team, so questions abound. Will Alexander Frolov, benched Monday against Dallas, return with heart and the desire to win? Will this team finally get some secondary scoring? How about a better power play? And what exactly is the deal with Drew's teeth? Are they in or out?

But the biggest question in mind my for tonight is whether our national anthem will make a comeback. You heard me right....The Star-Spangled Banner has not been played at one Kings home game this season.

HUH? Every sporting event I've attended in my life has started with the national anthem! How is this possible? I wrote an e-mail to my ticket rep, who replied that the Kings are trying to bring back some play-off tradition, and the last time we saw post-season action the games started with God Bless America. Did I want him push my concern up the chain?

I decided not to make a huge issue of it at the time, but the more I think about it, the more it continues to bother me. Not playing the anthem seems unpatriotic, and as the daughter of a WWII veteran I take issue with that. But I respect the Kings organization, and they don't seem like the kind of people that would willfully violate hallowed cultural traditions, even for the sake of making the playoffs. So I consulted Wikipedia to get a little more educated on the issue. Here is what I found:

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. Although the playing of the song two years later during the seventh-inning stretch of the 1918 World Series is often noted as the first instance that the anthem was played at a baseball game, evidence shows that the "Star-Spangled Banner" was performed as early as 1897 at opening day ceremonies in Philadelphia and then more regularly at the Polo Grounds in New York City beginning in 1898. However, the tradition of performing the national anthem before every baseball game began in World War II.[6] Today, the anthem is performed before the beginning of all MLS, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games (with at least one American team playing), as well as in a pre-race ceremony portion of every NASCAR race.

OK, so there is precedent for the song not to be played. And the complete wiki article also mentions other songs that served as hymns of America prior to The Star-Spangled Banner being adopted as the official anthem of the United States by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.

But let's get to the real issue, which is public perception. What do the Kings fans think? Do they really even care? Back on October 13, Kings beat reporter Rich Hammond posted a blog entry polling the Kings faithful, and clearly I'm not alone.

I guess we'll see if anyone in the Kings organization is listening.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Does Anyone Still Care About Customer Service?

Something about leaving the house at 5:30 AM on a SUNDAY to travel for WORK turns me into a great big crabby-pants, so I found even more things to be irritated about during my travels today. Since I was flying out of LAX and stuck on American again, it really wasn't a challenge. But by the end of my travels to Tampa, FL today, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was the complete lack of customer service I encountered at every turn.

  • LAX - You are probably the most inefficient airport in the known universe. Let's put the Disney folks to be in charge of this place for a while and you might learn how to move people. And if you're going to have 3 or 4 entrances to security along the same aisle, make sure the people directing traffic are polite and clear in what they are communicating. Don't subject me to growling rent-a-cops at 6 AM because you told me to go the wrong way.

  • American Airlines - Why did it cost me $5 more to check the same bag at LAX I checked in Burbank 2 weeks ago? Same airline, different price...really! And why are you folks incapable of getting a plane to leave a Los Angeles area airport on time? We were 30 minutes late taking off again, which meant another sprint through DFW to a flight that WAS leaving on time. In the future, I would recommend you people DO NOT sell a westbound connection through DFW any shorter than 90 minutes. That way, if you maintain your 30 minute late pattern of behavior, your passenger can still comfortably make their connection AND grab lunch.

  • Starbucks, I love you, but why must you refuse to stock the peppermint syrup I need in my mocha at airport locations? As a fan of the Starbucks brand, I think I should be able to order the same drink anywhere in the Starbucks universe, damnit! And where is my reduced fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich? And while I know tax and facilities issues at airports are more complex than normal retail, but how does a grande mocha + a turkey sandwich = $13.91. Just saying....

  • Hertz - You have a lot full of new vehicles and you rent me another one with damage! Then there are still no lot attendants to be found, so I have to go back to the customer counter to get a signature on the vehicle condition form so I won't be treated like a criminal when I bring the car back. This has happened on every trip I've made to Tampa this year! Clearly my Hertz Gold Club status means nothing, and your entire company has given up the idea of making anything easy. Either that or you've flagged my name in your computer and approach every interaction with the goal of pissing me off as completely as possible.

  • Crowne Plaza Hotel - No working treadmills, only 1 of 2 exercise bikes working, and the oldest elliptical machine on earth leave me Stairmaster as my only cardio choice? You call this a gym? And none of the direct line buttons for room service or the front desk worked on my phone, which led to a wild goose chase through the hotel guide and in-room dining menu to find the CORRECT room service extension (since there are two different numbers listed).

If I didn't have so much of my personal time and energy expended on this nonsense, I'd probably write letters to the CEO' s of every one of these companies. Then again, I've pretty much convinced myself none of them care about their customers. Why should I care about them?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shopping....STILL Not Easy

Since my clothing choices have been depleted due to my weight loss, I was excited at the prospect of my first shopping trip at a new size. Armed with my wardrobe filler list and a ton of optimism, I headed to ROSS in Pasadena, home of huge variety and low prices. After all, I plan on losing more weight, so I don't want to spend a ton of money on more clothes I'll hopefully only wear for a few months. The point is to avoid looking like a bag lady for the least amount of investment possible.

By the end of my little adventure, my optimism had been sorely tested and I only had a few items. Because even with less of me to dress, guess what? IT'S STILL HARD TO FIND CLOTHES THAT FIT! And it takes a lot longer!

First off, I have no clear idea of what size to shop for anymore. Clothes sizing is terribly inconsistent anyway, and I've always had to try everything on, but now trips to the dressing room involve 3 sizes of everything so I can recalibrate. If you can only take 8 items in the dressing room at a time, that means you can probably only try on 2 styles of pants at a time before you hit your limit. And I was not dealing with the kindest dressing room personnel, to say the least.

Second, because my body shape and proportions have changed, I now have more cut and style options than before. It's a good news/bad news scenario for all the same reasons as the sizing problem. More options equals more trial and error to figure out what works and doesn't.

In the end, I came out with a couple of jackets and one PERFECT little black dress (for only $25!), but no pants, which are what I needed the most. Not much in exchange for 2 hours in the store. If I had logged that much time on the elliptical I would have lost another 2-3 pounds! At least I'm ready for a hot I just need a good offer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Kid on the Block

Tonight I paid a visit to my friends Micah and Allison Hershberg, who just welcomed their second son Jeremy into the world on October 2. So now big brother Jordan has a little brother, and Mom and Dad have their hands full.

Knowing how tired Allison and Micah must be, I thought taking them dinner would be the way to go. After picking up salads, pizzas and pasta at CPK, I headed over to their place in Pasadena. Allison was enjoying a shower when I arrived since Micah got home a little early, so I got to spend time entertaining Jordan. He's added even more words to his vocabulary since my last visit, and he's also picked up a new eating habit - gotta have something in both hands!

I had thought ahead and ordered some pizza with just cheese and tomatoes thinking simple was better for him, but he actually ended up loving my thin-crust chicken pesto pizza. Sophisticated kid! He also loves Mom's cell phone.

Now I just need to teach him the art of the perfect self-portrait...

Jeremy is a totally adorable little peanut, although he's basically in sleep and eat mode so I didn't manage to get any photos with his eyes open. Sounds about right since the little guy is only 2 weeks old! He's got plenty to discover in this world without a flash going off in his face.

According to Allison, he and Daddy have been conking out around 8 PM every night. Seems they're both pretty worn out from all the excitement!

While Allison was taking pictures of her sleeping boys, I was reading to Jordan while he was winding down for bedtime. His new favorite word is "moon," and we went outside looking for it earlier without any luck. Instead, we tried to look for moon pictures in his books, and we found a couple. I also got the seal of approval on my reading skills, which is no small feat since I was reading everything upside down!

With the Hershbergs all fading fast, it was time for Auntie Meg to head home. Good night Allison! Good night Micah! Good night Jordan! Good night Jeremy! And good night moon....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just End It With An "E"

Besides missing teeth, another universal attribute of hockey players seems to be nicknames ending in "e" Sounds. It never fails...if you can't think of something more creative, just shorten the players last name and add a "y" or "ie" and you get the intended effect. Most of them would make great dog names. Let's look at some examples from the Kings roster:

Drew Doughty = Dewey
Dustin Brown = Brownie
Anze Kopitar = Kopi
Justin Williams = Willy
Davis Drewiske = Whiskey
Ryan Smyth = Smitty
Jarrett Stoll = Stolly

Of course, there are some exceptions. Matt Greene is Greener, not Greenie, although oddly enough the Washington Capitals Mike Green goes by Greenie. Wayne Simmonds is Simmer, Rob Scuderi is Scuds, and Jack Johnson is JJ. Sean O'Donnell is OD, which is pronounced like "Odie" so he's kind of walking the nickname line. I'm glad that Alexander Frolov is just Fro instead of Frolie, which sounds kind of gay.

And thank god our goalie Jon Quick's nickname doesn't follow this rule or he'd be a "Quickie." Although those are nice every once in a while, I'd like my goalie to be Quicker (which he is) if it's all the same to you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming Through the Clouds

I spent the first part of this week in Salt Lake City helping to present a leadership class. The weather in Salt Lake was very pleasant, 70's and the occasional shower. I got lucky weather wise for once, because while I was out of town LA was getting pummeled with rain.

On the flight back home this afternoon, our approach into Burbank was taking forever, and I looked out the window to figure out why. There was a huge storm system north of the San Fernando Valley, so we ended up circling south of the airport to approach through a gap in the clouds. Kudos to Southwest for a great choice that definitely smoothed out the flight.

Plus, I got some amazing photos of the clouds on the way in.

And catching a shot of a vapor trail is always cool.

It's good to be home. Now if the weather will just clear up...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

But We Won The Game....

Things have been going well for the Kings so far this season, and they've had a lot of reasons to be happy. Drew is probably one of the more cheerful guys on the team on a regular basis. Even last year, when we didn't have much to celebrate, he had his fabulous grin going every day in practice. My friend Nichole Glaze, a photographer by trade, caught this shot last season, and it's one of my absolute favorites of that perfect smile.

Courtesy of Nichole Glaze Photography.

I should have known it was just a matter of time until something went wrong.

After our win at home last Thursday, the boys headed out for their first road trip of the season, a six-game stint starting Saturday night in St. Louis. I went to Nadine's house to watch the game and enjoy some of her yummy homemade soup. The boys got off to a solid start, ending the first period with a 1-0 lead against the Blues. The second period was going equally well...and then it happened.

Ten minutes into the second period, Drew was involved in a fast moving defensive play, the puck took a crazy bounce on a rebound, and smacked him straight in the mouth. He finished out the play, and made his way off the ice, where a trainer promptly shoved a towel in his face. Uh-oh....towel means blood. And he's heading to the locker room. This is not good.

I sat on Nadine's couch, cringing and looking more anxious as the minutes ticked by and Drew remained off the ice. A trainer came out from the locker room and whispered in Coach Terry Murray's ear. The man has the best poker face in the world, and I can't read lips, so I had no clue what was going on. Except for the fact that the trainer went back to the locker room. The second period ended, and still no Drew. Crap!

He came back out in the 3rd with an attachment on his helmet covering his jaw. Holy hell! That's the same thing they put Sully in when he took a puck in the mouth and broke a bone in his face. This is NOT GOOD! Sully practically has no teeth left in his head! OH....MY....GOD!

Drew toughed it out the entire 3rd period, and the Kings won against the Blues 2-1. Then I started madly texting everyone I knew, and checking all my regular blogs to get more intel. The initial verdict....2 front teeth knocked pretty much out of place, 4 others cracked, and a stitched upper lip. Poor Drew! Not a great start to a 6 game ROADTRIP! That's right, the poor guy has 5 more games to suffer before returning to LA. I must admit, I went home from Nadine's and had a pretty good cry. But I guess Drew's a "real" hockey player now.

The next day, the Kings traveled to Long Island, and while the rest of the team practiced, Drew spent 2 1/2 hours in the dentists chair. Two teeth temporarily relocated, 4 cracked ones bonded, and he was back on the ice against the NY Islanders. The kid must have an amazing pain tolerance, because he scored a goal and the Kings beat the Isles last night 2-1!

Goal scoring is fun, and it was great to see him looking happy in spite of the "Bubble Helmet." He doesn't seem to be too worried about the teeth. Then again, you're in pretty good company when the list of hockey players missing teeth includes this guy. He still looks pretty happy, and he scores a boatload of goals!

I was relaying this story to Michelle, who reminded me her Dad played hockey in college and had a similar experience. He knocked out several teeth in a game, and came home to his mother with a huge gap in his mouth. She immediately cried, and his response? "But Mom, we won the game!" I guess it's just the way hockey players are wired.

At least I have my Tip-a-King photo from last year, and I can say I knew Drew when he had all his real teeth!

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Training: 60 days later

I'm officially 2 months into my year-long quest to lose 50 pounds, so I figured it was time for another update. The past 30 days brought a whole new set of challenges, as well as some pretty significant rewards.

Work finally started to pick up again after a very slow summer, so my carefully controlled routine of meals and workouts pretty much went out the window in September. For the first time, I really had to focus on planning day-to-day to adhere to as much of my regular routine as possible. I have a whole new appreciation for the rigorous routines of athletes. After a month of regular exercise, well-timed meals and good sleep, I started to feel the impact of disruptions in my normal plan in my energy level, and I didn't like it. For the first time, I hit a plateau in my weight loss, and even started to see the scale move the wrong direction on a couple of occasions.

For starters, September was s busy travel month. Between business and personal adventures, I was away from home roughly half the month. On one trip to a meeting in Cleveland, that meant having a normal breakfast, followed by a delayed flight and a sprint through the Dallas airport to my connection, missing lunch completely. Throw in a time change, and I ended up not eating dinner until 11 PM, which meant even hotel room service was done and the only food I could find was pizza delivery. Not exactly a healthy choice, and a workout that evening wasn't in the cards either. I quickly realized all I could do was control as much as possible, and give myself some leeway when things went a little haywire. The bright spot in my schedule craziness was the start of hockey season, which gave me built in exercise time on home game days. I kept the promise I made to myself when I moved downtown to walk the 10 blocks each way to and from Staples Center, and it's a ritual I've come to enjoy almost as much as the game.

The other complication, albeit a happy one, is my wardrobe situation. I got to the point where my pants won't stay up, proportions on things are wrong, and shirts that used to be tight are now so loose I can't bend over without flashing someone. While this is a great problem to have in the sense that I means I'm still losing weight, it also means I spend more time packing. Before, I knew what fit together and I could practically pack with my eyes closed. Now packing for a trip means trying everything on, seeing what still fits and is OK to wear for work.

As I discovered my old stand-by clothes no longer worked, I figured it was time to clean out the closet. I spent an entire evening trying everything on, weeding out 2 bags of clothes that didn't fit, and making a shopping list of wardrobe holes to fill. As happy as I am to need smaller clothes, getting rid of some things was hard because of the memories attached to them. The black dress pants I bought on my first trip to NYC after Michelle moved there. The dress I wore on New Year's Eve in Ireland. The Michael Kors safari jacket that kept me covered in Paris, Venice, Croatia and Turkey. The one thing I couldn't bear to part with was the dress I wore to Tanya's wedding, although it's now two sizes too big. It moved to a spot in the very back of the closet until I decide what to do with it. The jeans that haven't fit in 3 years moved to the front!

So what's the verdict on my total weight loss so far? I'm almost half way to my goal, having officially lost 24 pounds to date! And while the pace slowed a bit with everything going on this past month, I'm still headed in the right direction. I guess it's time for a small celebration...time for some new clothes!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm in Love

I have no idea where this team came from, but it's official - I LOVE THEM! My third night with the Kings was a resounding success, with our second win of the season over the Minnesota Wild 6-3. Drew got ANOTHER assist, so he's scored at least one point in every game he's played so far this season. He's currently 3rd on the team in points and the only defenseman on the list. That's my Drew!!!

And even though it's early in the season, it's so much fun to see the Kings at the top of the Division standings. Hell, we've scored more points so far this season than the Detroit Red Wings!

And even though it was tempting to pick a "Hottie of the Night" for Minnesota (two of their players are 6' 8" and over 250!), I spent warm-up skate time with Jen and Brianna over on the Kings side, getting some shots of Drew for our Facebook fan club site. So my "Hottie of the Night" tonight (and every night) is the Kings own Drew Doughty!

And in the funniest turn of events tonight, Nadine and I got on TV! I got this photo texted to me during the game from my girlfriend Shawna. She took a picture of her TV at home when she saw me. Thanks Fox camera guy!

I found out later we also made the Kings AND NHL TV HIGHLIGHT REEL for the game! We're at the end after the last goal, which I am of course filming since Drew was on the ice. The Drew-cam is now legend!

My boys leave tomorrow for a 6 game roadtrip, so I won't see them for a couple of weeks. Plenty of time rest up and get ready for our next date!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

(Almost) Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

OK, so the first date was pretty much a disaster of epic proportions. But who really LIKES first dates anyway? They're nerve racking under the best of circumstances. And since I'm an optimist who believes in second chances, and still think this thing with me and the Kings has some potential, I agreed to a second date. I'm glad I did.

My boys made up for the opening night debacle with a 6-4 win over our conference rival, the San Jose Sharks. Last year's Presidents Trophy winner for the best record in the NHL, and off-season winners of the Dany Heatley free-agency sweepstakes (if you can call that a prize you actually WANT to win...), they should have kicked us up one side of the rink and down the other. And while we were far from perfect - hell, we blew a 4 goal lead in the 3rd period - we persevered and came away with a 6-4 win, our first of the season.

Drew had another great offensive night, with his second goal assist of the season. On the defensive side of things, he played pretty well until he ran into this guy in the 3rd period....

That's right, Judas himself....Kings former Captain Rob Blake, now the SHARKS CAPTAIN, the only guy in the building who DOESN'T deserve a second chance. Hell, he's left the Kings twice in his career, and that's the only second chance he gets with me. Although I can't hate him too much (at least not personally) since he went to college with Nadine. "Ah zigga zumba" and all that crap..... you Bowling Green people....

Blakey managed to get around Drew, tap in the puck and leave Drew and our goalie Jon Quick sitting butt first inside the net. Not a good look, boys. But hey, Blake is on his last legs, so you probably won't see him next year. Let's just move on, shall we?

I will say this much for the Sharks - they have a HOT-LOOKING TEAM! That made choosing the "Opposing Team Hottie of the Night" a tougher task than usual. But Nadine and I persevered, and I'm happy to announce our choice is ....

Defenseman Douglas Murray - #3

Six feet, 3 inches tall, 240 lbs., piercing blue eyes, and sporting some excellent hockey hair. And he's Swedish. We like this.

On side note, it was lovely to see my friend Chelsea Alexander, who scored some awesome seats a couple of sections over in 116. Sorry about your Sharkies, Chels. Better luck next time.

One more home game on Thursday before the boys head out for their first road trip. That gives me time for one more date before I go back to being (temporarily) dateless and desperate. If the 3rd time is the charm, this just might be love....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Opening Night - My First Date with The Kings

The week leading up to the Kings first regular season game was kind of like the anticipation of a first date. The Vegas game was like meeting in bar, seeing someone interesting across the room while you still have the protection of your friends. You make eye contact, and you start some small talk and decide you like each other. They give you their A-game - in this case winning against the Avalanche - and you decide you want to know more. This could really BE something, right? So you accept the date and spend the week thinking through every detail. You plan what to wear, replay conversations over in your head numerous times so you remember to say just the right thing, and even imagine the ending.

With every first date, you have two possible outcomes.
  1. It lives up to your every expectation, and then some. Maybe you even fall in love and live happily ever after at some point in the distant future.
  2. The night is a complete failure, so awkward and painful you can't wait for it to be over.
My date with the Kings tonight? Unfortunately #2.

The evening started out with so much promise. Good roster moves during the off-season. Solid performance from everyone in training camp. Capping off the pre-season with the Vegas win. The stars were aligned...this year would be different.

When I arrived at Staples Center, there were other good omens. Drew's smiling face on an ad for the Kings Care sponsored Blood Mobile supporting Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

And Jen, Bri and I got a spot along the ropes for the "Purple Carpet" player entries.

Once 4:30 hit and the players started arriving, the wheels starting coming off the bus. Here are just a few of the evening's lowlights...
  • Drew comes walking down the purple carpet, and I'm following every move with the camera. Only after he's safely in the building do I realize I forgot to hit the record button. My first Drew-cam fail of the season! And he looked so handsome!!!
  • The girls and I get in line to enter the building, and my ticket won't scan. I have to walk all the way around to the ticket office on the other side of the building to have them stamp my ticket and confirm it's valid. Then I have to wait in another security line to get into the game. GRRRRR....
  • The pre-game player intros start, followed by the national anthem. Or not? Lisa Loeb sang "God Bless America," but NO ONE SANG THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER! I have never attending a sporting event in the USA where this has happened.
  • My boys look like the Keystone Cops playing against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are among the very worst teams in the league, currently are in bankruptcy protection with no owner, and just got a new coach a week ago since Wayne Gretzky decided he wanted out of his role as coach/part team owner. Matt Greene accidentally puts one in his own net. Drew makes a couple of bad passes that end up as goals. Alexander Frolov goes offsides on the best chance we have at an odd-man rush.
  • Our Captain Dustin Brown is so frustrated he drops an F-bomb during a mid-game interview with Patrick O'Neal of Fox Sports.
  • We end the nightmare with a 6-3 loss, and the boys get booed off the ice.
There were some bright spots. Drew got his first assist and his first goal of the regular season. My favorite usher Luis is back in our section. I had great seatmates, although they had just bought single game seats, so I'll probably be sitting next to someone else at the next weekend game. And there were no more Drew-cam screw-ups, so I got video of Drew's goal and assist for the fan club.

So you're probably thinking there won't be another date after this debacle. Think again. I'm an optimistic and forgiving type, and I'm choosing to rack this whole experience up to a bad case of first date jitters. The boys and I will get back together on Tuesday and give it another try.

Maybe a couple of drinks will make things go a little more smoothly....