As I sit here at my desk in sunny (well, cloudy now) California, I count my blessings for the internet. More so than usual, I mean. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I am able to listen to Canucks games online for the low low price of free.
The last two years that there was hockey to be followed, I'd watch as many games as I could on TV. Of course, that's not exactly going to work out right now, but at least I can still listen to the call on CKNW. And what a call it is: John Shorthouse has to be my favourite play-by-play guy, especially since the only other one I can remember the name of off the top of my head is Jim Hughson. I remember when I first found out John Shorthouse was going to be the Canucks' play-by-play guy. I think I might have even been at a Canucks game that night, and was probably waiting for Graham's dad to get to the car, and there was Shorthouse's voice on the radio. Damn, I thought, I thought he was dead!
There's something comforting about Shorthouse calling the Canucks. Perhaps it's because he seems like a bit of a dork, calling a jock's game for the rest of us. Perhaps it's the local-boy-done-good thing he's got going. Perhaps it's the idea of a Vancouver boy landing his dream job calling a Vancouver team (and that's definitely something I keep in mind as I do my thing). Like the high school sweethearts who marry early not out of responsibility but out of wanting to (think Gord and Tracey from For Better or For Worse), it's a beautiful thing.
And maybe it's because it shows that it is possible to climb the ladder of your profession, which is something I also think about in my second year of grad school. This got me thinking about every 1990s Vancouverite's favourite sports show, UTV's Sports Page. (And make no mistake, it was UTV's Sports Page; they were never the same by the time Global bought UTV.) Discovering Sports Page was the best byproduct of the 94 Cup run for me.
Man, those were some good times. Those four guys -- Paul Carson, Don Taylor, Dave Randorf, and John Shorthouse -- were so much more fun than whoever the hell was on TSN at the time. I don't even remember. They were good, but they were local, so they could, say, mistakenly call the Mighty Ducks the Mighty Dykes, and they wouldn't be so professional as to not laugh continuously through the next 5 minutes of highlights, unable to stop laughing (or drown out the floor director's laughter in the background) long enough to, you know, call the highlights. They had comedic timing, too, the lot of them. No other sportscaster could call the balk "the second-most exciting play in baseball" like Taylor could. TSN would never subtitle Sergei Fedorov's name, after the Wings got swept in the Cup final, Played like Cher! None of them looked a day over 25 to me, but that's probably because my sister was only about 19 and the only teenagers I saw on a daily basis were the kind on TV; i.e. the ones that are played by 28 year olds.
And who could forget the plays of the month. I actually owe them a debt for introducing me to some pretty classic tunes. I had never heard "Heterosexual Man" until they played it for me while they showed me something like Youppi! getting hit in the junk by a foul ball. I had "You Wreck Me" by Tom Petty going through my head the other day, and I almost definitely heard that for the first time while watching baseball bloopers.
It was when Randorf left that it really hit me that every one of these guys (except Carson) would one day have to move on. They were a promising batch, but they just couldn't be kept together. They were big fish in a small pond, and larger spotlights beckoned. They were the Vancouver sportscaster equivalent of the 1994-95 Montréal Expos (who, I should mention, I was also introduced to by Messrs. Carson, Randorf, Taylor, and Shorthouse). (As an aside, this is an awful picture of Randorf, and that suit was certainly not provided by the good folks at Staccato.)
Shorthouse, of course, is doing pretty well for himself as the voice of the Canucks, and I imagine he will be for a good long time yet1. Taylor is back on TV and has made Sportsnet worth watching in Vancouver. It will be a sad day when there is no one on television to keep us apprised of the dreaded Erat-Orzaugh combination, or Antti Laaksonen's numbers ("scoring with regularity"). Randorf never looked the same as a correspondent on TSN, and I figured he'd just disappear. I did a little digging online, though, and apparently he's now TSN's lead 11:00 anchor. Whether this is true or not, the East Coast has dulled him, from what I've seen, and I'll be watching Taylor at 11:00 over the holidays.
But those were some halcyon days. I can't think of the Grizzlies or the Voodoo without remembering Sports Page.
All this nostalgia also got me thinking about ICQ. Remember when you used ICQ? Well I do, because I probably still have it in my chat history. Anyway, I still use it, if only to talk to Victor and Americans. What is it about ICQ that's so hideous now? Is it how it doesn't use a normal window anymore? How they pop up ICQ Today when it opens, which is like MSN Today only without my e-mail and without entertainment news? Or how they added all that crap that nobody used? And then ripped it all out and made the new version incompatible with the old version's settings?
That sound, too, that "UH OH!" sound. I don't think it's changed since the very first version of ICQ I downloaded. That sound is a relic of the early days of the internet revolution, a time when IM was new and exciting and the idea of a HIG2 never even entered the mind of a casual computer dork like me. Still, even though it's horribly intrusive and more than a little annoying, nothing says "You have a message!" like that sound. (And, arguably, nothing says "Here I am!" like the less-heralded knock-knock-knock.) We were livin' it up, popping up new windows for every message, sending URLs specially for some reason, wondering what a proxy setting was, and trying to figure out why we could send files to Victor but not to Derek.
As it is, I still use it, but I'd like to stop. Unfortunately, I still sometimes like to talk to Victor and Americans. At this point I'd like to encourage Victor and the Americans to at least try Google Talk, because it might not have any features, but you can (Google) talk. Of course, it won't happen, but what else is new?
In other news, I was just eating a chocolate bar, and I realized all of a sudden that I was full. I looked and I only had two little squares of chocolate left, but despite that, I wrapped it up and put it away instead of just eating the last two pieces. I think this is the surest sign yet that I've become an older, wiser, more mature Dickolas Wang. It's also reminiscent of how my father quit smoking, apparently, but that's another story.
1 Shorthouse's still got some comedic timing in him, too, as evidenced by this clip of Tom Larscheid calling a fight, getting a little hysterical, and winding up with a breathless "WHAT'S KEEPING HIM UP, SHORTY?!"
Two seconds pass.
2Human Interface Guideline
The Odds - Heterosexual Man
Tom Petty - You Wreck Me