2014 NHL Awards Show Running Diary

Posted: June 24, 2014 by Keith Stone in hockey, NHL
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Every June, hockey fans look to a special night (as long as there’s not a lockout) when the best athletes in the game are celebrated amongst their peers as the whole world watches. No, it’s not the Stanley Cup Finals, but the NHL Awards Show. Coming to you live from the Wynn in Las Vegas, get ready for the greatest mix of humble Canadian athletes and C-list celebrities you could ever imagine! As for this Rangers fan, I’m ready to get over the disappointment of the loss to the Kings and this is the first step to moving on. Let’s drop the puck…

7:01- We open with a list of the celebrities (dare I say stars) scheduled to appear. David Boreanaz! Eric Stonestreet! Michael Vartan! This is going to be great.

7:02-Who is our host? George Snuffleupagus? Seriously, I don’t know who this guy is.

7:03-Snuffleupagus is doing the thing where the awards show host arrives for the ceremony. He drives up on a zamboni and interacts with celebrity impersonators in the dressing room area. Get it? Cuz they’re at a hockey awards show in Las Vegas LOL! Michael Jackson is holding the Lady Byng Trophy, the first lady he’s been with in a quite a while. With jokes like that, maybe I have a future hosting the NHL Awards.

7:05-First Stanley Cup sighting. Trying not to cry.

7:08-Gary Bettman glances awkwardly at the camera from his seat in the audience. You know what this means!?!? GARY BETTMAN DRINKING GAME!

7:12-A commercial for the Kings’ Stanley Cup Champions merchandise package. Grabbing some Kleenex.

7:15-Sidney Crosby wins the Ted Lindsay Award for Most Outstanding Player as voted on by the players and talks to our guest interviewer for the night P.K. Subban backstage. They are surrounded by the celebrity impersonators. Surprisingly, Sidney doesn’t try taking a dive on Elvis.

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Finally, after years and years of winter, springtime is starting in the Northeast.  What better time to go down to Atlantic City for a quick run?  This diary features my mom’s birthday celebration, the return of OB (last seen singing “Surrender“), the return of my gambling ways, and a trip to a heart-shaped bathtub.  Onward and upward!

Friday

3:00PM – This weekend is set to be extremely packed for me: multiple dinners to attend, a 7K to run, and tons of gambling to partake in.  However, a miscommunication between my mom and I puts me in my Showboat hotel room with about five hours to kill until dinner at Scarduzio’s.  It would be way too early to start gambling, especially since I’m staying the entire weekend.  So, I kill time by doing a perusal of the boardwalk.  To spice it up, I decide to stop in a bunch of those stores selling corny t-shirts and various other crap.  From the outside, they always appear to me as adding to the whimsy of the Atlantic City Boardwalk – these tiny, cheap shops serving as the ying to the giant casinos’ yang.  However, on the inside, they reek with the same depression you find on the slot machines at 5AM in the morning (not to mention, the smell of these shops is overwhelming – it’s like when you visit someone else’s grandparents’ house, and you can tell that everyone else there has gotten used to the smell, but you haven’t, and you start to die inside).

The disappointment of these stores is augmented by the terrible weather.  It is cold, windy, and rainy, and the report does not look great for tomorrow.  I had briefly entertained switching from doing the 7K to the 11K, but that notion got killed by my walk along the boardwalk.  Feeling a bit depressed, I decided to just grab a six-pack and go back to the room and do some reading.

(Just to note: many casinos have now adopted a strict rule that you cannot bring your own booze.  Pro-tip: this rule is circumvented through this trick — I put my beer in a black plastic bag.  I know this sounds complicated and tricky, so I’d recommend bookmarking this page so you can remember how to sneak booze into a casino the next time you are in AC).

8:30 – With my mom and her fiance checked in, we head to Scarduzio’s in Showboat for some pre-race steaks.  As always, Scarduzio’s does not disappoint.  It is my personal favorite steak place in Atlantic City, beating American Cut in Revel.  After dinner, we part, as my mom has to get some gambling in, and she only gambles by herself.  Unfortunately, she learns the same lesson that I have learned time and time again: the Showboat is a horrible bitch.  I, too, have to get a bit of gambling in before I go to bed; the Showboat devours my bus voucher, but I hold my own in about 15 minutes of blackjack.  And with that, I’m off to bed for the 7K tomorrow morning.

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Last month, tragedy struck the Atlantic City Boardwalk as the Atlantic Club, formerly known as the Atlantic City Hilton (among other names), closed its doors.  While in recent trips I haven’t been visiting the Atlantic Club, it still held a special place in my heart.  In my first trips down to Atlantic City, I frequented it regularly due to its plethora of cheap rooms, cheap tables, and cheap drinks (although it wasn’t the same once the Dizzy Dolphin removed their signature Dizzy Dolphin cocktail, which was basically cirrhosis in a cup).  It is sad to see such a place go, and I can’t help feel bad for the poor alcoholics in their early 20’s who are now down one less place to go in Atlantic City.  I truly regret neglecting the Atlantic Club in these past few years, and am remiss that I couldn’t even say goodbye.

With a heavy heart, I vowed never to let this happen again.  For too long, I’ve leaned too heavily on old faithful casinos like Harrah’s and Showboat, while neglecting to give my love to the Golden Nugget or Resorts.  So, on a random Sunday in February, Keith and I attempted something done by few bloggers/drinkers/gambling addicts/poor decision makers have done before: visit all 11 Atlantic City casinos in one night.

9:00AM – That’s right, we took a bus to Atlantic City at 9AM on a Sunday.  For those curious, the bus was about 40% full (Keith and I each had two seats to ourselves), and we made record time heading down (arriving in just under 2:25).  To set the mood: I was packing light (just a toothbrush in one pocket and a half-dozen casino players cards in the other), and downing orange juice and vodka on the ride down (it was before noon, so I had to keep it classy).  We arrived at Bally’s, where we would be staying that night, but the check-in line was too long, and as per Rule 3, we had to gamble immediately.  The first stop: Trump Plaza.

Keith Stone: I, of course, packed a full backpack and forgot my toothbrush, which was really the only thing I needed. I was drinking a copious amount of vodka poured into a liter bottle of Pepsi I got from a bodega the night before. Towards the end of the ride, I dropped the bottle cap and it rolled a few seats behind us. I decided to leave it since I’m lazier than Eddy Curry after signing a contract extension. Little did I know, I would keep refilling this Pepsi bottle with vodka and spilling it the entire night. I was like a wild animal marking my territory — gamblerus alchoholous — and my territory was the funnest place on Earth (in southern New Jersey).

As for this “class” thing that Rory talks about, I’m like school in the summertime.

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Cheap Trick

How does seeing Cheap Trick at Harrah’s in mid-November sound to you?  Mildly entertaining, with a slight chance of being horribly depressing?  Me too!  Let’s dive right into this bad boy:

11:30AM – You know, every one of these diaries start out with a bus journey, and I figure it is all old hat by now.  Nothing new would happen.  In fact, this is exactly how I started Chapter 13 before being proven wrong.  You would think that this would easily be the most routine and ho-hum part of the journey: riding a bus on the Garden State Parkway for 2.5 hours.  But, there’s always something to report.

In this case, however, it was pre-bus.  This trip was just the dynamic duo: OB and myself.  As loyal readers know, OB has begun the last few trips (starting with Chapter 11) by ordering a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich in Port Authority, and stuffing it down before it has had a chance to cool, ceremonially burning his mouth in the process.  I’m not sure what the point of this tradition is, but it seems to give OB so much pleasure (and pain) that I can’t help getting excited when it comes time for it.  If there are two things that will be mentioned in the first line of OB’s obituary, it will be his love of extremely hot eggs, and his highly controversial Springsteen-based political rants.

Anyway, we come into a situation where the man behind the counter had just finished dealing with an unruly customer.  This situations can always be a bit dicey, but OB’s charm had the man laughing in no time (I would describe it as “charm”, OB would describe it as “general happiness in anticipation of a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich”).  The man even feels comfortable to boast that his soda prices are the lowest in town, and has no problem laughing at OB’s last name, calling him a mick.  It is this demeanor that has made him the greatest man at reheating sandwiches in the basement of Port Authority.  One scalding hot sandwich later, and we are on the bus down to Atlantic City.

3:00PM – The bus flies down to AC without a hitch.  The crowd on the bus is sparse and quiet, and combined with the weak traffic, I was anticipating that the city would be fairly dead.  Which wouldn’t be too surprising, given that it is a random weekend in November.  However, upon arriving at Caesar’s, we find the place is bustling with activity.  This is a good sign, but would the same hold true at Harrah’s, in the distant Marina-land of Atlantic City?  At Caesar’s, we quickly blow through our bus vouchers (after an unsuccessful search for the legendary KISS slot machines, we settle on Star Wars slots and last about as long as Jek Porkins) and head to Harrah’s.

5:30 – It has been a great couple hours in Harrah’s.  Check-in is a breeze, the room is clean, the beds are comfortable, and the room service, which we are now devouring, is delicious.  OB and I have been listening to happy music for the last hour (beginning with Leslie Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” naturally), and couldn’t be in a better mood.  I must say, we don’t head to Harrah’s that frequently (the only Harrah’s appearance was in Chapter 9), but it is slowly growing on me.  With our bellies full and our livers boozed, we head down to get some pre-Cheap Trick gambling done.

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The BEST AUTUMN EVER begins in Atlantic City with something completely unexpected.  This entry contains a shocking lack of both gambling and alcohol abuse, replaced with a startling amount of healthy activity.  As you may have guessed by reading the headline, Keith and I participated in the 55th annual Atlantic City Marathon!

Well, to clarify, we ran the half-marathon, but together, we ran the full one.  Whenever I had to clarify that, it always reminded me of the “very proud, minus” line from Arrested Development.  Conversations went akin to this: “Oh wow, you are running a marathon, what an accomplishment.”  “Well, actually, I’m running a half-marathon.”  “Oh… what a half-accomplishment.”

Now, Keith is a regular runner.  He is the only man I know who has woken up from a night of drinking and gambling and immediately went on a jog on the boardwalk.  He is even participating in the New York City Marathon in two weeks.  Yours truly, on the other hand, am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination.  I mainly disliked running because I’m both slow and easily distracted.  Doing one thing over and over for two hours would, on paper, drive me crazy.  In fact, as I write this, I am taking breaks every 15 minutes to either check football scores, play games on my tablet, practice the guitar, or stare at the wall.

Furthermore, I also hate “running culture.”  If you look at any running website, you’ll find corny positive-attitude slogans posted everywhere.  “You are lapping everyone on the couch!”  “You have a strong spirit!”  “You’re the best…AROUND!  Nothing’s gonna ever bring you down!”  While these cliches may inspire others, they just make me roll my eyes.  They seem desperate, insecure, and delusional.  Here’s my motivational phrase: running is putting one foot in front of the other at a quick pace, and it will make you healthier.  That should be all the information you need to make the choice of whether to run or not.

I signed up for the half-marathon because a family member signed up for the full one, and stupid old me thought: “How hard can 13.1 miles be?”  I started training this June, and immediately regretted this decision.  I intentionally made no references to it in the previous AC Diaries because I was not sure this post would ever be written.  But, without a running partner or a specific training plan, I eventually built up my distance (but not my speed: my first mile run took me 10 minutes, and my 10 mile run took me 100 minutes).  Training gave me these two breakthroughs about humanity:

1. People walk strangely.  In my training, I was running from my apartment, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and back.  I can’t count the number of times people will just randomly stop walking in front of me, or just drift to the left when I try to pass them.  Seriously, pay attention to your walking some time, and you’ll realize how hard it is to keep yourself going in a straight line.  Also, I ran over the Brooklyn Bridge about eight times during my training, and I’m sure I appear in roughly 2,376 tourist photos.  Sorry, couple from Australia, but I can’t break my flow!

2. Fat people are amazing.  First, imagine your dream life.  Are you sweating, with your knees and feet aching like hell?  Or are you relaxing on a beach, eating ice cream, and surrounded by beautiful women?  Fat people may not be at the beach or surrounded by beautiful women, but they have the “eating ice cream” part down.  They are closer to living the dream than you are!  And imagine the guts it takes to be fat.  Everywhere you look, people are demeaning you, saying you are not only ugly, but you’ll die soon.  And these brave lardos ignore all medical advice and go for the ice cream!  It’s damn impressive.

Anyway, this is the longest amount of time I’ve spent in Atlantic City consecutively (from Friday to Monday), so let’s begin this journey:

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Well, the BEST SUMMER EVER is hitting the home stretch, so I figured it was time to check back in with the greatest city you can go to if you take exit 38 off the Garden State Parkway.  This time, we were off to see one of my favorite bands, the Killers, playing at one of the casinos I’m least familiar with, the Borgata.  Sure, they played the night before at Prudential Center, which is much easier to get to and the tickets were much cheaper.  But what fun is it going to Newark?  All my memories of the Prudential Center involve watching Devin Harris lead the Nets to 20-ish win seasons.  Whatever – this isn’t the god damn Newark Diaries!  Anyway, yadda yadda, and OB and I are at Port Authority…

1:00PM – I’m telling you, the time is right for someone to come in and usurp Greyhound’s stranglehold on buses from New York City to Atlantic City.  The price for Fridays has been raised up to $44, which is really taking a bite out of the value of the ride.  Also, Greyhound has now instituted a policy where you can only go to the gate area if you have a ticket.  While this does crack down on the number of bums meandering the facility, it makes it really inconvenient if you buy tickets for a friend, knowing that said friend will be showing up later (a situation that happens to me all too frequently, as you may recall from Chapter 9).  So we are paying more money for worse service, but there’s really no better alternative at the moment.  Basically, Greyhound is the Netflix of bus lines.

2:00 – Aboard the bus, I am drinking like a fish.  Unlike last time, when I was nursing a hangover, I am ready to party, fully prepared for all the negative consequences – terrible gambling decisions, lack of memory inhibiting my ability to write this diary entry, vomiting and pooping at the same time, etc.  OB is not intimidated, however, making my drinking efforts look amateurish by downing a water bottle full of Jim Beam.

(Just a side note with my man OB: he is returning to Atlantic City for the first time since July 4th.  In 2012, he went down to Revel on July 4th, and won a staggering amount of money, which led to the circumstances of Chapter 4.  This year, he went to Showboat, but kept the winning alive.  He now has a handler at the Boat of Show, and the room and our meal would be complimentary.  It should also be noted that I was not with him during any of his large wins, but I have been present at all of his large losses.  Yeesh.)

Anyway, on the ride down, we had one notable conversation about statistics.  OB mentioned learning about the “gambler’s fallacy” in college.   In layman’s terms, it basically means that past random events do not predict future events.  For example, if I roll a 7, it isn’t less likely that I roll a 7 next time – the odds remain the same.  Surprisingly, OB tells me that he thought his professor was wrong, that it WAS less likely.  Unsurprisingly, he told me that he had to take statistics three times in college.  I do my best to explain the fallacy again, and he reluctantly accepts my argument, but I hear lingering doubt in his voice.  How this man has won more money in Atlantic City than anyone else I know is, literally, one of the biggest statistical anomalies.  It’s a case that would probably make Nate Silver throw up his hands and go “Fuck it, I quit!”

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KISSslot

In last month’s Atlantic City Diary, I made the bold mission statement that I wanted to make this the BEST.  SUMMER.  EVER.  And, to accomplish such a grand task, there will have to be a lot of trips to the Lost City of Atlantic.  However, taking a three-hour bus ride to go get drunk and lose money does need some justification.  As explained in my guide to Atlantic City, I usually go down to see a concert or comedy show.  However, a good 90’s band or horribly offensive comedian does not come to Atlantic City every weekend.  You’ll have to invent excuses to go down.

This time, we celebrated my buddy Finn’s “birthday,” which was actually over a week ago, and involved the usual crew of drunken vandals.  The cast of characters this time involved Keith, OB, Finn, my girlfriend, Polar (making his debut for the AC Diaries) and yours truly.  The setting – the Boat of Show, also known as Showboat.  Let the adventure begin!

12:00PM – The previous night, my girlfriend and I both proclaimed that we would not get drunk and stay out too late.  We split up to hang out with our respective friends, and, of course, found ourselves coming home at 3:00AM and nursing killer hangovers the next day.  At noon, we headed for the subway to Port Authority, and she was asking me how I got home.  Struggling to recollect the experience, I say, “Well, I think I said goodbye to my friends, left early, and walked back by myself.”  As soon as I finish this story, I hear my name being called.  It is the friends I hung out with last night.  So, my girlfriend asks them how I got home last night.  The answer:

“We walked you home!  And you kept drunkenly shouting, ‘Are we there yet?’ every block!”

So that was my Friday night.

2:00 – We reach Port Authority, where we meet up with Keith and OB.  Unlike previous experiences, I’ve learned to eat heartily before the trip.  OB grabs a sausage-and-egg sandwich, which the master chefs at Port Authority stick in a microwave and nuke to high heaven.  OB tries to stuff the scalding hot sandwich in his mouth, his hand shaking the whole time, nearly breaking into a sweat.  Some may call it an impressive feat, but those people must have a very low threshold for being impressed.

On the bus, we are immediately treated to an argument between passengers.  One guy is playing a video game very loudly.  A man shouts from the back, “Could you turn it down?”  The offender retorts, “Mind your own business!”  The complainer explains, “I’m on the damn bus!  This is my business!”  Nice.  The man continues to play his video game, albeit at a quieter yet still audible level, then turns it off, and eventually borrows Keith’s newspaper.  What a guy.

During all this, my girlfriend and I are sitting out on the typical “drinking on the bus down” festivities, due to the previous nights activity.  OB, however, is engaging what I like to call “pregnancy drunkenness” – he’s drinking for two.

5:00 – We arrive at Showboat, with OB two flasks lighter.  I haven’t been to Showboat in a while, but the bus center has taken on a distinctive cheese smell.  Like all the world’s problems, this problem too can most likely be traced to the Earl of Sandwich.

Keith and OB have rooms next to each other, so they go up together to the Orleans Tower.  As my girlfriend and I check-in, I inquire to see if there is a room available on their floor.  The person checking us in is very polite, and taps away vigorously on the keyboard, searching for rooms that fit our criteria.  Unfortunately, she can only get us a room in the NEW Orleans Tower.  That’s fine, we say.  However, little known fact: the NEW Orleans Tower and the Orleans Tower are, you know, the same tower.  We’re a five-minute jaunt from Finn’s room.  Gotta love that customer service you get in Atlantic City.

While my girlfriend takes a nap, I go and pregame with the gentlemen.  However, before we can gamble or drink more, it is decided that we are all starving and need something to eat.  We don’t want to do the buffet, and Scarduzio’s is too expensive.  So what do we decide on?  A little mom-and-pop joint called Jonathan Rockets.

Keith Stone: While OB and I were walking to the room, we happened upon a rambunctious family that was having trouble deciding where everybody should stand for a group photo. OB settled the argument by walking right into the middle of the shot and becoming part of the family. Now they can tell everybody about their crazy Irish cousin.

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When we arrived at the room, the real drinking began and we were joined by Finn and Polar. For some beautiful reason, Polar had with him three Million Dollar Man tuxedo T-shirts, so OB, Polar, and I threw them on, and began laughing like only Ted DiBiase could. Because I am an idiot, I decided to wear my shirt for the night of gambling, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of the end.

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