Did you know that the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, that hosts Justin Timberlake on Oct. 17, once hosted a bonspiel in its Imperial Grand Ballroom?
That's right. The former Aladdin Hotel was turned into a curling wonderland, by Shorty Jenkins no less, for a Desert Classic pro-am in 1992. That, and many other factoids about the roaring game are now available in hardcover form thanks to Globe and Mail reporter Bob Weeks, who recently released his new book: Curling Etcetera, A Whole Bunch of Stuff About the Roaring Game.
Admittedly, I've seen this format of book done before, and haven't always enjoyed them. This time, Weeks has come up with 193 pages worth of curling stories that he's cobbled together with the help of several other national curling writers and broadcasters over the years. The end result is an entertaining montage of obscure facts, funny stories.
You don't have to be a curling fan, or in my case curling reporter, to enjoy how Weeks shares a story from the 1970s, when Paul Gowsell played at a major bonspiel in Winnipeg, with 1,000 people in the stands. At one point, a pizza delivery guy waltzed onto the ice, delivered a pizza Gowsell had ordered to the skip in the middle of the game. Play had to stop while Gowsell made change, opened the box for a slice, and in the true sportsmanship of the game, offered his opponent a slice as well.
There's plenty of historical anecdotes about game as well, which helps explain how the game has progressed. It's unfair to Weeks to share all of his best material for free. There's certainly enough there for casual curling fans, and the crazy guys with gopher skin caps who attend every Brier in a brazen attempt to drink more Keith's than the entire province of Nova Scotia and randomly yell out the name of any province during games, to warrant reaching into your wallet and pulling out $21.95 plus appropriate taxes ($19.95, if your bookstore will sell it to you for the US price) for the chance to read on.
There are certainly worse ways to spend 20 bucks. Like the Bette Midler act down the road at Caesars Palace.