I feel as though I am in some sort of stasis. The world around me spins, blurs, melts away, ceases to exist completely. My heartbeat slows, keeping time until Saturday at 5:00 pm, when I can once again rejoin the real world and watch hockey.
Except this Saturday I won't be watching hockey. I will be performing with my dance company in Long Beach. I'd provide the details but I know you will all be watching the game- and I don't blame you for a millisecond- I'd give so much to be able to watch it too. I'm planning to go home and watch the game as soon as I can, and then if they win, I'm planning to go and meet their plane in El Segundo. Even if it's 3:00 am. Even though I have dance all day on Sunday as well.
I enter these periods of stasis every year during playoffs and every year during dance performance season. I am usually alright at multitasking but I love both of those things so much- and find them both so stressful- that I'd prefer to focus all of my energy on those things when they are happening. The problem is, they are happening at the same time this year, and it's already kind of killing me.
So I apologize in advance if I am absent- physically or mentally- over the next two weeks. Until the end of the playoffs, I only exist for two reasons: hockey, and dance. I won't be able to think about or focus on anything else. If you don't understand those two things- if you're not a hockey fan, and you've never seen me dance- I am very sorry to say that you will cease to exist in my eyes for the next two weeks. It's not personal. It's self-preservation.
As you could probably tell from my last entry, one thing that gets me through the slow periods of agony between games are amazing hockey videos. I forgot to include two of my favorites last night, so here they are.
This is a damned great commercial. It is a joy to watch, but my heart hurts knowing that there is no Kings jersey in this video.
And speaking of raising the Cup...
I love the top 2 comments:
if you dont have to hold back tears when you see this, you're not human
I cannot even begin to describe how I feel right now. So I'm just going to let the following videos do it for me.
CBC's opening montage from tonight. Wow. Wow, wow, wow.
...which brings me to CBC's closing montages. These air at the very end of each Stanley Cup Finals series. They are simply magical. The prospect of a Kings-heavy video excites me to no end. If you have never seen a CBC closing video, hold onto your hats, because these videos are literally the best things I've ever seen in my entire life. I cannot WAIT to see the Kings in this year's video. Our appearances in previous videos are all too brief, my friends.
The first CBC closing montage I ever saw- and my favorite, to this day. From 2010.
I can't even watch it without crying. I feel like that kid in the freezeframe.
My second favorite CBC closing video- from 2011.
The video from 2009 is also very good. It's not as good as 2010, simply because nothing ever can be (until this year, of course). I love this song so much. Note Brodeur "breaking down" at the 1:14 mark.
And then there are the ever popular Stanley Cup commercials.
Mess. Always a good one.
Wish. Also makes me tear up.
But my absolute favorite has to be No Words. I make it to about the 7 second mark of this commercial before I start tearing up, and the 16 second mark before tears start running down my face.
I'll conclude with a video that the Kings have been playing before each home playoff game. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried watching this at Staples during the last round.
One last thing before I go to bed- I was lucky enough to be on All the Kings Men last night. I had a wonderful time talking to Jesse Cohen, the Royal Half, and Bridgette from One Girl, One Puck (I apologize if I spelled your name wrong).
I was starstruck when I opened Skype and saw who else was on the line. I had a blast talking to them and was pleased to discover upon re-listening that I only sounded half as dumb as I felt. In classic Wongsby fashion I managed to work in the word "dick" as well as three swear words- and even though One Girl One Puck also professes to have a potty mouth, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who swore. Good times. Anyway, the link is above, and we talk about what it's like to be lady hockey fans. Many, many thanks for having me on.
(Super bonus points if you get the title of this post before I explain it halfway down)
So we're playing the New Jersey Devils.
Let me explain. My entire family- yes, both sides- are from New Jersey. My parents grew up down the street from each other in Morris Plains. For years, visiting my grandparents meant going home to New Jersey. My parents may have fled the humidity of the east coast for a life in sunny California (via many, many moves around the country), but New Jersey will always be special to me. My super awesome Uncle David is rooting hard for the Devils, so I will refrain from saying anything bad about them (not that I have anything bad to say- yet). The point of this all is that my hockey heart will always be with the Kings, but my family heart has its roots in Jersey.
One thing I am thrilled about, though, is the chance to hear more Bruce Springsteen. Because if there's one thing that New Jersey loves (besides the Devils), it's The Boss. The NJ arena played Glory Days right after the Devils won- and I loved it.
I don't think it's an overstatement to say that Bruce is the greatest artist of all time. There's just something about him. I guarantee that at some point you've heard- and liked- his music.
The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
The best opening of any song, of all time, ever. It's universal- so universal that it can even apply to hockey.
Don't run back inside, darling, you know just what I'm here
We are the Kings and we are here to win the Stanley Cup. In case you were confused.
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't
that young anymore
Martin Brodeur, I'm looking at you. As @habrahamson said when the Devils won, "Brodeur is 40 years old as fuck."
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
And that's alright with me
Dustin Penner. Beauty on the inside, mountain man on the outside. (As an aside, what kind of guy says this to a woman? Hilarious.)
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey, what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your
Drew Doughty. That HAIR. It's almost Greek God-like.
Well, the night's busting open, these two lanes will take us
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting on down the tracks
Hopefully these two lanes will take us to the Stanley Cup. The third line always reminds me of the Red Wings logo. (Sorry, O. Didn't mean to bring that up.)
Oh oh, come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Technically, the Kings aren't riding out tonight- they're riding out right now. In fact, Bailey is pretty much live tweeting their plane trip to Jersey.
Hey, I know it's late, we can make it if we run
I know they can make it. I know they can.
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of
The Sedins, Backes, Elliott, Doan, Smith. We sent them away. And before their departure, they all had the same haunted look- the look of defeat.
They scream your name at night in the street
I genuinely hope that Mike Smith wakes up every night, in a cold sweat from nightmares, screaming Penner's name in terror.
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
I think it's safe to say that the Kings have graduated. No more will we exit in Round 1. We're going all the way.
It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win...
Safe flight, boys. Full speed. Maintain your road trip prowess. You're pulling out of here to win. Don't forget that.
And now, for your viewing pleasure- the best rendition of this song that has ever been recorded. Thunder Road. Don't be confused by the end- they're saying Bruuuuuce, not booing (think "Dreeeeeeew" or "Luuuuuuuc").
You're pulling out of here to WIN IT ALL. And we're with you every step of the way.
I woke up this morning, turned on my computer, and looked at every single picture from the LA Kings website of last night's game. Somewhere between Picture 10 and Picture 15, my eyes started to well up. By Picture 25 a happy tear had formed, and by Picture 45, I was unashamedly wiping my eyes.
I'm so happy.
I can't believe it.
We're going to the Western Conference Finals.
You all know the stats. The last time we went this far was 1993, the Kings are the first #8 seed to dispatch the #1 and #2 seeds (in 4-1 and 4-0, no less). I wasn't a fan back in 1993 so I can only imagine the elation (read: complete sobbing from joy) that long-time fans experienced last night. I would have given anything to be there last night. I'm pretty sure I would've been crying my eyes out.
Pretty sure that Shanahan would say this is a dirty hit.
Kopi is absolutely targeting Brown's head. And look how far his feet are off the ground.
Aside from when he lifted the Cup, this is definitely the happiest I've ever seen Rob Scuderi.
Is Jeff Carter crying? Probably just sweat. (Rob Scuderi is thinking "...but you don't LOOK like Hugh Jackman...")
The greatest tradition in sports.
I have the feeling that we are about to see even more franchise firsts. Rest up, boys (but not too much). See you in the Western Conference Finals.
Admittedly, I have missed watching several Kings games because of the other great love of my life, dance. It seems that every time I have a dance performance (or lately even a serious rehearsal), the Kings win. Last year during the playoffs they won every night that I had a performance. This year, so far, the same thing. And, conversely, every playoff game I've attended in person has been a loss for the Kings. So as much as it pains me, I did not accept tickets to Round 2 (yet- I might break down). I just can't take that chance.
Dancing is nothing like hockey, but it is the closest that I can get to making a meaningful comparison, and for the purposes of this blog, it will have to do.
Hockey players do things in a certain order on game day. Wake up, maybe work out, eat, nap, wake up, put on a suit, go to the arena. Warm up in a certain order. Leave the ice in a certain order after you've hit or missed a certain number of practice goals. Dress in a certain way. Wear a lucky item of clothing. Wrap your stick. Tape your socks. Use a certain color tape. Breath in the adrenaline and anticipation.
I love that build-up. I love that ritual. I love the superstitions. I have a lucky suit that I put on the same way every time I make a big presentation. Before a dance performance I eat one of two food items every time (cheese sandwich or peanut butter toast). I warm up on stage. Stretches are always done in the same order, then re-done if my back or hip doesn't click into place correctly. There are lucky legwarmers, depending on the season and time of day. Certain parts of the dance must be run through; lifts must be hit, turns must be landed, abdominal work re-done until I can finish the problem moves without any serious issues. Certain words whispered at the last minute as prayers to other dancers.
And it starts. And sometimes...just sometimes...everything falls together perfectly. Better than perfectly.
In every performance, in every speech, and I think in every hockey game, there is that moment- that tipping point- where you realize that magic is happening.
Maybe it's when you realize that you don't actually need your notes to speak, and you make eye contact for the tenth time with the audience to see them looking back at you, and you take a deep breath and grin despite yourself. Last weekend during our performance in Arizona it was 2 minutes into that first piece when I could feel more than see that our timing was so perfect that even our breathing was synchronized. It is that moment of pure joy, where suddenly your nerves transform into wings, or jet propellers, or dragons, or something amazingly exciting that makes you feel like you are cresting down a very tall hill, and your stomach got left behind at the top but that's ok because you're happier than you've ever been and there's nowhere else you can imagine being at that particular moment. It's the perfect go-ahead goal, when your team is up in the series by 2 games and you score a beautiful, seemingly effortless goal that puts winning the third game out of reach for a demoralized opponent.
I love those moments. Those moments are joy. They are magic.
And I think we are witnessing one right now for the Kings. Is this what winning feels like? How many texts have you gotten, Kings fans, from friends who say things like "they are going all the way"? I can hardly dare to believe it. I'm scared to believe it. Pinch. Pinch. Is this real?
Yes. It's real. We are up 3-0 against the Blues and well on our way to Round 3. Breath it in, Kings fans. I truly believe that this is our tipping moment. The Kings are getting a true sense of momentum, and their game is being powered by confidence and joy as much as skill. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
I often say that there is nothing as gratifying as watching someone do what they love for a living. For the first time ever, I feel like that is what is happening for the Kings. They are each individually and as a team discovering the joy of playing hockey.
And I hope that that joy carries them all the way.