Saturday, June 24, 2006

Conan. NYC, Home

I survived the Conan show and so did Conan despite his best efforts--he chose to "summit" the mock iceberg, which had the producers a bit freaked out as that wasn't planned and there was no padding on the far side of the wall, so Conan's head was about 15 feet off the concrete... Conan is actually a decent athlete and didn't fall off, impale himself or me with an ice tool, break a leg, in short the long list of concerns the show's producer went through with me at length and with intensity just before I walked on didn't happen.

Doing the show was as intense as anything I've ever done, I can see why people get addicted to the pace and glam factor of big-time media--I did my normal comp or hard climb warmup before I went out, I needed to get rid of the bats flapping around my stomach. Backstage was pretty fun, I got to meet some "real" famous people--the actor Ty Reece said he might try ice climbing one day but not anytime soon. Kate Blankinsett (sp?) is indeed pretty damn hot, but she didn't show much interest in the guy ripping up the floor with his crampons on while waiting to go out (that'd be me). I had a pose-down contest with the actor playing the Incredible Hulk, I did not win that one, going to have to work on the old double-bicep pose some more (read, I'll need to get some biceps and he definitely has some.).

It was full madness, as was the evening with some friends in NYC after the show. I went straight from the show to Chelsea Piers climbing wall and got a great session in on there with Ivan and his bud Rex, thanks for the pump! My old friend Les runs the Chelsea walls, good to see faces from my sport climbing past still at the game. We did a tour of bars in Manhattan afterwards, somehow the Red Bull guys had amazing hookups. I of course missed my flight yesterday morning and felt like ass all the way home, but it was worth it.

I'm now back home in Canmore, it's a spliiter blue day and time to get outside and give 'er a bit. I'll publish some photos from the Conan show when I get 'em, should be some fun stuff there...

Workouts: In the midst of all the travel and general chaos I've actually managed to keep some degree of climbing fitness with bouldering and climbing gym visits, sent my first really hard rock (for me) route last week. It's been hard to find the time/energy with everything that's been going on, but climbig keeps me sane when everything else isn't. I'm definitely addicted to just slapping chalk on my hands, I care less and less about where, just going climbing on something is what's most important to me these days.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NYC, Late Night With Conan O'Brien

Somehow I'm in New York City to do a show on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." I feel a bit like saying, "Um, you know I'm not exactly Adam Sandler?" I bring that up 'cause I'm watching Conan's show right now and Adam Sandler is the first guest (Figured I should do some research before going on the show..). I'm probably going to get bit by Triumph the Insult Dog, a sock puppet sketch gag Conan uses. Triumph alienated half of Canada when he insulted all of Quebec a year or so back with some pretty over-the-top (OK, I laughed at it...) comedy at Quebec's expense. I don't think I'll bring up why I went to NYC when I return through customs in Calgary on the way home, they'll probably strip search me or something. Anyhow, I'm pretty nervous about the whole experience, I haven't done this sort of thing before. Conan's back from break and there on the screen interviewing Adam Sandler again, who is actually funny, and funny is what people on the show want. What the hell is funny about climbing icebergs, which is apparently what we're going to talk about? Icebergs rolling over with me on them isn't too funny, or even if they rolled over on Ben Firth, who I did the iceberg climbing trip with. So I'm pretty nervous about it all--I'm fundamentally a dirtbag in need of a haircut, here I am in NYC in some monster hotel suite getting ready to do a TV show that's broadcast world-wide. I'm going to have to remember not to swear, not to fart excessively loudly, no picking my nose, in short it's going to be just like going to visit my grandparents when I was a kid. So I'm nervous.

I just noticed that everyone on the show is wearing nice clothes. I brought two dirty T-shirts and some chalk-covered Arc'teryx pants 'cause I want to bust it to the climbing gym tomorrow night after the show. Doh.

OK, now Conan has got some freak wrestler on the show, a guy named John Ceena or something. He's at least wearing a T Shirt, but has the steroid-enhanced frame to make a T-Shirt look good. I've got arms like a 10-year old. This show is giving an inferiority complex already, my hands are sweating like I'm 20 feet out on bad gear. I'm gonna have to chalk up and send it. I tape from 5 to 6 tomorrow night, Conan just mentioned that I'll be on the show, jesus!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


We just finished up with Karen McNeill's memorial. I went into it feeling sad, that's just how it is and has been. Life moves forward, but there's always a sad presence in my mind. Today I listened to the stories of Karen's life, and they lifted my spirits through remembering hers. There are friends from all over the world in town, and it's good to see so many people connected with Karen. She spun a big web of friends, and I'm happy to have been a small strand of that. Some of the Morley First Nation's people attended, and added some deep drumming, along with some wild art from the classes she taught at the school there: life-sized paper pants painted up to match Karen's infamous choices for clothing. I "stole" a pair, they will hang with pride in our house. I was impressed with how diverse Karen's web is--at times it would have been hard to believe the speakers were talking about the same women. Perhaps one measure of a well-lived life is how broad a spectrum your friends span; Karen's was one hell of a rainbow.

Sue was also there in my mind, I'm going to miss her too. Many of us at the memorial knew both women, and they are linked in all our minds for their climbs together and what a friend called,"Putting the girly back into climbing." I always respected Sue's opinions, even if we were both sure the other was a taco short of a combination plate at times. "Fiesty" was an oft-used word when describing Sue, and I will miss that energy whether she was talking about climbing or whatever was on her super-charged mind at the time.

I wish that these gatherings of the community happened under "better" circumstances, but they are also an opportunity to see the web in tangible form, even with some strands missing. The web of life will be there long after all of us are gone, Karen and Sue helped the web shine in the sun for me. Mt. Foraker is about the most beautiful resting place I can imagine, and I'll always look at photos of it with the knowledge that Karen and Sue are now part of that beauty. Peace to the families and friends of both women.