On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the St. John’s College 10th anniversary gala BBQ / welcome dinner. SJC is of course my beloved former graduate residence.

Before the dinner, I participated in an afternoon panel discussion entitled, “From SJC to the Real World“. The discussion was led by everyone’s favourite weatherman, Ian, who is a good friend of the College. The panel was somewhat poorly attended by the current residents but that’s not really a big departure from when I lived there.

Now having participated in the panel really screwed up my perception of what I was going to wear to the dinner. I certainly wasn’t going to wear a suit to the panel. Keep in mind also that the dinner was going to be advertised as a BBQ. With that in mind, I wore some denim pants, some of you call these “jeans” and a very nice short-sleeve shirt. Just in case, it got cold, I also brought along a classy black hoodie with the skate. logo emblazoned along one sleeve. I did not bring a change of clothes which might have been a poor decision.

After the panel was done, we had lots of time to kill so Dana L. and myself played two games of croquet. It was really great to see Dana again. I miss a lot of people from SJC but he is certainly one of the best. Anyways, Dana kicked my ass twice. Even though I lost both games, I could still feel the magic. Plus, I kept looking over my shoulder because I swore Bryan was there.

For the dinner, they had a huge tent setup in the courtyard. Inside there was a small stage and podium. I believe there were over 20 tables and some nice decorations. It really reminded me of an outdoor wedding reception.

So anyways, from 6pm on people started arriving for the dinner. The guests included current residents, alumni, UBC staff and faculty, and original Johanneans. So everyone is arriving all dressed up and Dana and myself are looking like bums now. Dana is wearing this Hawaiian-like shirt and jeans, so he’s in the same boat as I am. The only saving grace was that Amber brought some sorta squirrel cosplay costume and was running around entertaining people. For the record, she attended the actual dinner in normal clothes.

The dinner itself was quite nice. There were some great speeches by acting SJC Principal Henry Yu, UBC President Stephen Toope, and a graduate from the original SJC in Shanghai. The evening was hosted by Stephen H. which was a bit of a surprise. When I met this kid three years ago he was a pretty shy chemistry student. “Hyberbole” as Joel called him, sure has changed. He did a bang-up job hosting and was actually quite funny. There were also a lot of alumni there, mostly from 2002 and on. Off the top of my head, there was Dana, Ian, Joel H, Donna, Emre, Rubab, Aliye, Carly, Frank, and probably someone I left out. As well, I did meet a few alumni that I did not know beforehand.

The food was awesome of course. Clarence had a wonderful spread of salmon steaks, skewers of every kind of meat, exotic sausages, seafood, several salads, and more food than my brain can recall. For dessert there were selections of fresh fruit (way above fruit plate quality I have to add), small pastries, and pieces of a large and tasty 10th anniversary cake. All during the meal, we were waited on by David and his staff.

As I sat with old friends and had this wonderful meal, I realized how much I missed the formal dinners. There are a lot of good things about SJC and the formal dinners are probably in the top three. I was lucky enough to realize before I left how special those dinners are at SJC.

With the dinner over and dessert eaten, I mingled among the tables. I talked to people that I still know there (a small number) and got introduced to some new residents. Then it was time for the social lounge “dance party” which seems to have taken over as the new post-dinner tradition. No one seems to go to Koerner’s anymore though Shawn and Frank sure wanted to go.

The “dance party” seemed to have some old ghosts because it was nothing but salsa for the short time I was there. Dana invited all of us alumni to his room for a private party. That is where I hung out for most of the evening. Because I was with old people, everyone went home pretty early. I went back to the social lounge for a bit and said goodbye to some people and I went home myself.

I really enjoyed the evening and am glad I got to be part of the festivities. Dana took some pictures which I hope I can put up on this site in a few days.


As we approach the Friday launch date for skate. we’re seeing more reviews come in. Here’s the up to the second scores:

IGN – 90
1Up – 90
Game Informer – 88
GameTrailers – 81

With the fourth review, the ever-important Metacritic score can now be calculated. Our current Metacritic score on Xbox 360 is now 89. While that gives us the rating of “generally favourable reviews”, a 90 would push us into “universal acclaim” territory. Just say it again… “universal acclaim”. That sounds way better than “generally favourable”.

We took a major hit from GameTrailers because they gave us a 7.2 on gameplay which led to the 81. I may be or probably am biased but WTF? I think that’s pretty harsh considering IGN said that skate. “redefined the genre”. How can you redefine a genre with gameplay that rates as a 7.2? Anyways, no game can please everyone… except for BioShock but I digress.

I’d like to see a few 90s. If we can keep our Metacritic score at 90 or above, we get a star! Also, EA executives will give us a big pat on the back.

Lastly, the video you see above is from 1Up. It’s technically not a review but just three reviewers discussing the game. It’s pretty cool since I get to just listen in on people talking about various aspects that liked or didn’t like. Of note, one of those people is a real female! Jennifer Tsao is the managing editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Based on my back-0f-napkin calculations, she is the fifth female on the planet to play skate. (outside of the ladies on the dev team).



Ok, this turned out to be a super long post. Long story short, read the last couple of paragraphs and then watch the video above.

For many, many years I’ve wanted to attend a taping of David Letterman’s talk show in New York. I started watching Dave’s show when I was about 12 or 13 years old back when he was still at NBC. During school months, I could only watch his show on Fridays (after he started doing a Friday show) or when I remembered to set the timer on the VCR to record the rest of the shows. He was on at 12:30am those days and did some pretty weird things in that time slot. He had a monkey with a camera attached to his back roam around the studio. He interrupted The Today Show with a bullhorn while they were on air, thus starting a feud with Bryant Gumbel that would last years. He wore a suit with over a hundred super-absorbent sponges and then had himself lowered into a tank of water. Dave did awesome and funny things, and he was witty to boot, so that’s why I became a fan.

Fast forward to this August. I am in NYC to visit my friend Joel. We are in Times Square, leaving a restaurant, on our way to subway to get out to Queens for the Open. We pass by this woman standing next to a store. This woman says something to us.

“Would you like to come see a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman tomorrow?”

We stop and look back at her. The last time I checked, and admittedly this was quite a while ago, you had e-mail or mail for tickets months in advance. This sounded fishy. I told her I thought we had to mail away for tickets. She replies they stopped doing that a long time ago.

Now I’m interested. Joel seems ok with this. We tell her that we’d like some tickets for tomorrow’s show. She asks us for picture ID. I hand her my driver’s license. She looks at it and tells me she wants to visit BC. She’s heard how beautiful it is. I kinda nod.

Anyways, she writes the info down on a sheet of paper and hands it to us. It’s got instructions for where to go and when. We are to go to the Ed Sullivan Theatre tomorrow between 2pm and 3pm to pick up our tickets. The taping itself will not take a minute longer than one hour and we’ll be out of the theatre by 5pm. One interesting instruction is to dress somewhat warmly. It’s well-known that Dave likes to keep the theatre cool because he’s comfortable that way. We thank the lady for the opportunity and head off to Queens.

Because we need to be in midtown between 2pm and 3pm on Wednesday, it means if we want to see Letterman we’ll have to skip the last day session at the US Open. I tell Joel I am willing to make that sacrifice. Joel says he’s willing to. I’m not sure if he agreed because he really wanted to see Letterman also or if he knew I’d been waiting for this for over two decades. We were going to give up seeing Rafael Nadal for this and I knew Joel wanted to see him play.

In any case, we show up at the Ed Sullivan Theatre at 2:30pm the next day. There is already a line of people outside the theatre. We get to the back of the line. As the line moves, we can see CBS pages working the line. They’re going up and down the line, talking to people. Now it was kinda unspoken between Joel and I but I think we both knew that somehow, we’d probably should make a good impression on these pages. The first one that came to us was named Rachel as indicated by her name tag. Joel had the first salvo.

“So are you an intern or something?”

“No!!! I am not an intern. I’m a page. I get paid actual money for this.”

Well, that was a good start. I decided to go for cheesy and cliched.

“I did the NBC tour yesterday and I gotta say, the NBC pages look awful compared the outfits CBS gives you.”

“I know! Plus, they have such boring duties. We get to talk to people like you and help run Dave’s show. I like that a lot better.”

With that, Rachel hands each of us a blue square of construction paper that she has initialed.

“Hold onto those and when you get inside the theatre, tell them Rachel gave you those.”

Joel and I decide it’s better to have these blue things than not to have them if you’re an audience member. The line snakes its way toward the entrance of the theatre. Once we get inside, we give two other pages our sheet from yesterday and the two blue thingies from Rachel. We get our tickets and we notice each of them has a blue sticker on it.

As we are walking out of the theatre, another page looks at our tickets and notices the blue sticky. She tells us to wait with other blue sticky holders. The page then comes over to us and explains we’ve been given special status and we’re to return in half an hour and to stand in a different lineup when we do return.

Joel and I spend our half our at a fantastic deli that I wish I remember the name of. I had a great roast turkey and brie sandwich there. Anyways, we’re back in our designated lineup at 3:15pm. Very shortly we’re let back into the theatre. We are now lined up just outside the back doors of the actual theatre. I’ve seen on TV the other side of these doors for years.

As we stand in line, the doors open up every few minutes as staffers go in and out. I glimpse the familiar set of The Late Show with my own eyes for the very first time in my life. It feels surreal to be seeing it there right in front of me.

A page stands on a chair and gets our attention. She says there are a few things we need to know before we go inside. First, the order of business. After she is done, we’ll be let into the theatre. A warm-up guy will do a few jokes for us. Then we’ll see some highlight videos of Dave in action. Next, the band including Paul Schaffer will come out and do a song for us. Finally, Dave himself will come out to greet the audience. He won’t have much time but he wants to get to know the audience. One perhaps two people might get a chance to ask him a question. The show will then start.

The page then tells us it’s super important that we keep our energy up for the entire show. The more energized we are, the better show it will be. We are told to be super enthusiastic about every joke that Dave tells. Even if we don’t find a joke funny, we are told to laugh anyways and clap our hands. If we are even remotely on camera, we are to have a smile on our faces and look like we’re enjoying ourselves. It seems a little over the top but I remember I paid nothing to be here and I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time.

With the page’s spiel done, we’re left to wait a few more minutes. Joel and I start talking to this young couple from Houston. They find out I work for EA and the dude immediately asks me if I work on Madden. *sigh*

Anyways, not long afterwards, the page makes one final announcement. If we have blue stickers on our tickets, it means we are going to be sitting in the front rows of the theatre. A big cheers comes up from our section. With that, we are let into the theatre.

Inside, there is canned and upbeat music playing. At the end of the aisles are pages clapping their hands. Joel and I go right to the front where yet another page greets us.

“How many?”


The page points to a row of seats, a front row no less, with three seats in the row. Joel and I sit down. We are in front row seats, the closest to Dave’s desk in the entire theatre. We are both shocked and impressed. Holy!

The pages in the theatre are now imploring us to clap with the music to get us primed for the show. Joel and I jump through the hoops f
or them. Soon, the music stops and the warm-up guy appears. He tells some pretty lame jokes but both Joel and I fake smile and clap for him. We then are shown a highlight from a past show where Dave works a Taco Bell drive-through window. After that, the band is introduced and they play a song. During the song, bassist Will Lee throws personalized guitar picks into the audience. Joel got one.

After the song ends, it’s time for a surreal moment again. David Letterman literally sprints out from backstage to thunderous applause. He has his suit jacket off but he’s otherwise dressed for the show. It’s almost 4pm at this point. My brain is telling me I’m seeing Dave Letterman but it’s surreal knowing I’m not seeing him through some sorta television device. He’s standing twenty feet from me. The man is an actual human being.

He greets the audience and he notices one member who is wearing a Late Show shirt. He asks him how much he spent on that shirt. $26 the dude replies. Dave asks his staff if they can get him $26. The warm-up dude runs down the aisle with a fist full of money to reimburse the guy for the shirt. Dave says they have time for one question. A woman asks Dave if his son will be in pre-school this year. Dave says yes. A staffer yells out we have 45 seconds to show time.

There’s some crazy flurry of activity as people move to get ready for the start of the show. Dave thanks us and runs backstage. We hear the theme music start and the monitors in the theatre show the opening montage. “Big Red” or Alan Kalter, who is sitting just to my right, starts his announcer duties. Ellen Degeneres is on the show! Five seconds before he is introduced, Dave sprints from stage right to stage left. Alan says his name and Dave comes out to us again, even though we just saw him. On TV, you don’t see any of this course, including the crazy spring he did seconds before he comes out.

Dave does his monologue. Now, I’ve watched a couple hundred shows with Dave, so I can say what was a good monologue and what was a bad one. On that night, it was merely ok. A few of the jokes were actually quite flat.

About eight minutes into the show, “Big Red” interrupts Dave. Alan says because Ellen is on the show, he feels like dancing. He then starts dancing towards the stairs near my feet. In my head, I’m thinking OMG, he’s going to dance up my aisle. The audience is now lit up with lights and Alan passes within five feet of me. My mind is thinking a million things. I’m trying to watch Alan because he’s just super cool. I’m also trying to sneak a peek at the monitors to see if I’m on camera. I’m also trying not to freak out because I realize I actually am on camera now. All this time, I’ve got this goofy smile on my face because they just beat it into you that you have to be smiley.

It’s all over in a few seconds. At a commercial break, I turn to Joel and I tell him we’re going to be on national television! The rest of the show went really quickly. Ellen was ok. This was actually the second time I saw her live, the first being her standup act when she came to Vancouver over ten years ago. The next guest was Jeff Garlin from the show Curb Your Enthusiasm. That interview went nowhere and it was not entertaining. Lastly, some band played a song that lasted not even three minutes. When they were done, Dave came over to thank them and the show stopped right there. Dave turned to us and thanked us for coming. That was it.

The doors opened up and we were let out. As far as shows went, this was an ok show overall. The fact that I was in the audience and I appeared on TV made it awesome! It was a wish fulfilled and a dream come true all at the same time.

So if you wanna see me and Joel on TV, I uploaded the segment in question to YouTube. The clip is shown above. At about the 1:00 mark on, look for Joel in his aqua blue t-shirt. I’m in black sitting to his right. The quality and resolution of the YouTube clip is low, so if want to make out the goofy smile on my face, I’ve made a high-resolution clip available for download.

erwin_on_letterman.avi – 15 Mb (requires DivX codec)

So, there you have it! Now if I could only appear on The Price Is Right.


Some of you eagle-eyed readers might have noticed the archives for this blog on the right hand side stopped updating sometime in February. Something odd happened and I still haven’t figured out what went wrong.

Nevertheless, I have updated by hand the archive file so that it’s current now. The result is that you can now view archived posts from February on. I know so many of you can’t get enough of my witty banter, so you can now revisit classic weeks like June 24, 2007 to June 30, 2007. So funny!


Image courtesy of Crissy Pascual / San Diego Union-Tribune

I know there are a million new stories and blog posts about this already but I couldn’t resist. Two months ago, Kyla Ebbert, a twenty-three year old college student and Hooters waitress from San Diego was chastized for the “revealing” nature of her outfit while on a Southwest Airlines flight. The lecture was done by a Southwest employee in front of other passengers which apparently caused Ebbert to be embarassed and humiliated. She was about to be kicked off the flight but they allowed her to stay only after she was made to make her outfit less revealing.

You can read the whole story here. Even better, Ebbert appeared on The Today Show with her mother and her lawyer, where she was interviewed by Matt Lauer. In the interview, she wore the outfit that caused the whole ruckus. Now I’m just saying because it’s out there for everyone to see, at about 1:33 into the interview, it appears that Ebbert flashes her white panties at the camera. I’m just sayin’!!! You can view the interview here.


The first review is in and it’s by well-read IGN. They didn’t say skate. was perfect but they thought it was awesome. Fine by me. I’m quite happy at the moment. Here are some highlights:

“It’s not often that games come along that can change our perception of how things should be done for a genre. EA’s skate joins that pantheon of games that redefine a genre.”

If you want to watch their video review, here it is below.
Overall, I think we have a hit on our hands!


The first online review of skate. will hit the Internets in just a few short hours. This game is by far the most challenging project I’ve worked on but at the same time, the most rewarding. There is some amazing buzz among gamers for skate. based mainly on the demo we released.

At the end of the day though, it’s the number of units we sell and what we get in the reviews that matter the most. I won’t even fathom a guess at what score we’ll garner from the critics. All I know is that we’ve made an awesome game and we’re hoping for the best.


On my trip to New York, I got to fulfill a wish of mine, which was to have a meal at a Red Lobster restaurant. Now, that probably seems silly to some of you. Living in Vancouver, with the Pacific Ocean right next to me, I have a plethora of wonderful local seafood restaurants to choose from. Why I would want to partake in a restaurant chain when I can have awesome seafood locally might be odd.

Well, the thing is, I really love my seafood. I love salmon, mussels, clams, lobster, crab (only if the meat has been taken out of the shell for me), and oysters. That there is a large chain of restaurants catering to seafood gets my interest. Unfortunately, there are no Red Lobsters in Vancouver.

Ten years ago, I was on a family vacation in Honolulu. We were wandering around one evening trying to decide what to have a for dinner. I saw a Red Lobster and I convinced my Mom to let us go there for dinner. As we were walking to the RL in question, my Mom saw a Chinese restaurant at the very last second and immediately diverted us there. I don’t think my Mom can go three days without eating Chinese food. Anyways, I wanted to go to the RL the next evening but my Mom decided we were going to the same stupid Chinese restaurant again. It wasn’t even that good.

For ten years, that was the closest I came to going to a RL. Then last week, as were walking through Times Square, I saw a RL just off Broadway. I sheepishly asked Joel if we could go there for dinner. He kinda looked at me funny but he said it was my vacation.

So we went to RL for dinner that evening. The RL in Times Square is quite nice. It’s got three floors and you can take a glass elevator to the upper areas. The menu itself is quite extensive. I was impressed with the number of choices. They also have a seasonal menu which highlights what specials they have at the moment.

In the end, I went with the classic surf and turf, a medium rare sirloin steak with a rock lobster tail and mashed potatoes. For starters, I had a most pleasant green salad with the best honey mustard dressing I’ve ever had. We also had a basket of Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Joel was kind enough to point out each of the biscuits contained nine grams of fat. Knowing this, I had half of one. It was ok.

The main course itself was delicious. The steak was better than the lobster though. The sirloin was quite tender and marinated to the right amount. The lobster was not as flavourful as I had wanted. It was perhaps a lack of a sauce or even some butter that caused it to lose a few points with me.

Some of you might remember that the “best SJC formal dinner ever” also featured surf and turf. I’d say the RL steak was on par with Clarence’s but his lobster was much better than RL’s.

Overall, I was quite pleased with my meal at RL. I might garner some shame for this but if they had RL here in Vancouver, I might go a few times a year.

Thanks must go out to Joel for letting me indulge in my RL experience.