Ken Dryden's "I am a Player"

I am a player

             I love to play
             I want to win
             It matters to me if I win or lose
             It matters to me how I play the game
             I want to win without injustice or bad luck or regret
             I want to own every pleasure and disappointment
             I want to get lost in play
             I want time not to matter
             I want to do something more important than me
             I cannot win alone
             I need my teammates and my opponents to make me better
             I trust, because I have to trust
             I forgive, because I need to be forgiven
             I play a game, not only a game
             I try because that matters to me
             I try because it's more fun that way
             I don't quit because it doesn't feel good when I do
             I play with others, but I play against me
             I learn when I play
             I play when I learn
             I practice because I like to be good
             I try what I've never tried before
             I fail, to fail smarter
             I want to be better than I was yesterday

             I dream
             I imagine
             I feel hard and deep
             I hope, because there's always a way.

                                                                            —July 21, 2003


Literary Excerpts

It's a majestic city with a patina of elegant decay...

Jay McInerney
Bright, Precious Days


Biking: Summer 2017 Edition

After a good solid year of getting back on the bike, I decided to upgrade my ride. Last year I was rocking the Trek 820 (c. 1991); this summer I picked up a Surly Cross-Check (c. 2015). What a difference two-plus decades of frame engineering makes. The Cross-Check is a whole lot lighter and generally rides like a dream.

After riding it for a month or so, I started making changes. I ditched the drop bars and threw on the Nitto Albastache bars from Rivendell. Sweet thing about these bars is that they worked with all the Surly's default components. The bars have a 26mm stem clamp and also allows for the drop-bar brake clamps....meaning no new brakes (at least not yet). The bar-end shifters also fit into the Nitto handlebars—bonus! I got a more upright and angled stem...after all, I saved money by not having to get new brakes or shifters.

The next upgrade was the saddle. I found a slightly used Brooks B17 saddle on eBay for about $50. Attached to this is an Echo Trail Seat Bag from Frost River. This thing holds way more than you think it would. Lastly, at least for this year, I found a bargain on a Velo Orange Porteur Rack.

The bike is a great commuter ride.

Ultimately, I may want to spruce up the rack with some wood slats. There are several folks on Etsy that craft these (~$50 for parts, hardware and shipping). Or, I could make my own if I am feeling extra crafty. I might also get some colored tires down the road....maybe white or whitewall tires. I might upgrade the brake levers and put on some fenders as well.


Two University of Minnesota Disappointments Today

Two things happened today that irritated and disappointed me, and unfortunately, neither is unexpected. First, I went to the Bookstore in Coffman Union today in search of some Dance Team swag. I made a New Year's resolution that I was going to purchase non-football related UMN gear. I searched high and low and only found one Dance Team t-shirt (and it was a super generic design). When I asked, sure enough, that was all there was. Now if you want football or basketball gear, there are several designs and color combinations to choose from. And not only are there t-shirts, but sweatshirts, hats, caps, you name it.

Now I understand the whole idea of market economics and that some sports related gear is going to sell better than others. But the fact that there is only one t-shirt option is ridiculous. And not only for the Dance Team, but Swimming and Diving, Cross Country, Track, Golf, and several other University sponsored teams also only had a single t-shirt available in pretty much the same stupid generic design. How can a public university condone that?

The sad part is that this is completely not unexpected. And I have been a part of the problem...I bought football gear. I guess I will check with Goldy's Locker Room.

The second thing that was disappointing today was reading President Kaler's response to Trump's executive order. Sure, he said that the U would stand with its students and remain steadfast, but what a missed opportunity. Compare that to the language Macalester's president used, "these orders are cowardly and cruel. They make a mockery of the claim that we are a country of generosity and decency." Again, the sad part is that I have come to expect the lethargy and non-commital type of commitment that Kaler brings to governing the university. And it's not just Kaler. The Board of Regents and many other administrators give off the same kind of energy.

For all its talk about wanting to be a leader and a top 3 research university, the University of Minnesota sure doesn't act like a leader. They tend to move with the herd rather than picking up the reigns and leading the herd. We should change the motto from "Ski-U-Mah" to "Don't Rock the Boat". Maybe P.J. Fleck can adopt that as his new motto.


Three TV Shows

Over winter break I watched several TV shows. Three of them are worthy of their own blog post, and all of them I am watching on Amazon Prime.


This show is super good. This show originally aired on the History Channel and has currently been renewed for a fifth season. I am watching it on Prime, but it is also available on Hulu. Vikings tells the tale of Ragnar Lothbrok, a bad-ass Norseman who pillages England and battles like a hellcat. Vis-a-vis Game of Thrones, the fight scenes are bloody, and the costumes kick butt. Because it airs on the History Channel, the sex scenes are not nearly as graphic as GOT. The hair, beards, and tattoos seal the deal on this show. They are unreal. Total beard envy. Vulture has a slideshow of the epic beards and hair of the characters of Vikings.

Ragnar Lothbrok

Mozart in the Jungle

Another show I fell in love with over break was Mozart in the Jungle. Following fictional characters in the New York Philharmonic, this show is loosely based on Blair Tindall's memoir about being an oboist in that orchestra. The characters in this show are lovely. Eccentric, artistic, poetic.

Rodrigo De Souza
The two principal characters are Hailey Routledge, and aspiring oboist and Rodrigo De Souza, the passionate South American conductor the Philharmonic hires at the beginning of the series. But the complementary characters are just as delightful. Saffron Burrows portrays a cellist who was sleeping with the former conductor,  played by Malcom McDowell. Wallace Shawn and Jason Schwartzman also play wonderfully funny characters in the show. After watching even a coupe episodes, it is clear why this show has won a bevy of awards.

Red Oaks

This is a show I happened on that I can't believe I didn't know about before. The show is centered around the character David Myers, a college-aged guy who works summers as a tennis pro at Red Oaks Country Club, an exclusive club in New Jersey. The show is set during the 1980s, which, I think, is why I am attracted to it. The cast also includes Paul Reiser, Jennifer Grey, and Richard Kind, who I love. Several of the episodes were also directed by Amy Heckerling, who also directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. This alone makes the show worth watching. Couple that with the 80s soundtrack and outfits plus really good dialogue and acting, and you have a winner. It also doesn't hurt that the epsisodes are around 25 or so minutes long.

Jennifer Grey and Richard Kind play the parents of David Myers (played by Craig Roberts) in Red Oaks.



2016/2017: Year of TV

I am going to try and keep track of my television shows chronologically rather than by current, watched, etc. I will try to update this throughout the year. I will also give the medium for how I am watching the show. So, without further ado,

Fall 2016 (September/October/November)
  • 30 for 30 Shorts (Hulu) — Started watching
  • Ballers (HBO) — Watched the second half of Season 2
  • Behind the Mask (Hulu) — Watching Season 1 
  • Brothers & Sisters (Hulu) — Started watching series.
  • Californication (Netflix) — Finished re-watching the series
  • Chance (Hulu) — Watching Season 1
  • Daredevil (Netflix) — Watched Season 2
  • Designated Survivor (ABC) — Watching Season 1
  • Divorce (HBO) — Watching Season 1
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix) — Re-watching the series on Netflix to get ready for the new episodes that are due out in November
  • Longmire (Netflix) — Watched Season 5
  • Lovesick (Netflix) — Watched Season 1
  • Lucifer (Fox) — Watching Season 2
  • Madame Secretary (CBS) — Watching Season 3
  • Manhattan (Hulu) — Finished both seasons.
  • New Girl (Netflix) — Watched Season 5
  • Pitch (Hulu) — Watching Season 1
  • This is Us (Hulu) — Watching Season 1 
Notes: Of the new shows I started watching (Chance, Designated Survivor, Divorce, Pitch, and This is Us), Pitch is by far the most entertaining. This is Us is good, albeit super-sappy. For some reason we are still watching Designated Survivor; why? I don't know. Chance and Divorce I watched a few episodes of each. They didn't grab me. I also really enjoyed Manhattan. It isn't, however, a new show, just new for me. The 30 for 30 Shorts are 10-15 minute episodes, so quick watching when you have just a small bit of time.

Winter 2016/2017 (December/January/February)
  • The Affair (Showtime) — Watching Season 3.
  • 30 for 30 Shorts (Hulu)Still watching. Only a couple episodes left.
  • Brothers & Sisters (Hulu) —Watched Season 2–4.
  • Chance (Hulu) – Finished Season 1.
  • Designated Survivor (ABC) — Still watching Season 1.
  • Lucifer (Fox) — Watching Season 2. One episode left until mid-season break.
  • Madame Secretary (CBS) — Still watching Season 3.
  • Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon Prime) —Watched Season 1, 2, and 3.
  • Pitch (Hulu) — Still watching Season 1. 
  • Red Oaks (Amazon Prime) —Watched Season 1. Midway through Season 2.
  • Shut Eye (Hulu) — Watched Season 1.
  • This is Us (Hulu) — Still watching Season 1.
  • Vikings (Amazon Prime) —Watched Season 1 and 2. Midway through Season 3.

Spring 2017 (March/April/May)
  • The Affair (Showtime)Still working on Season 3. Haven't made any progress on this. Is that a sign?
  • The Americans (FX) — Watching Season 5.
  • Beginning of Everything (Amazon Prime) — Watched Season 1
  • Better Call Saul (AMC) — Watching Season 3
  • Billions (HBO) — Watching Season 2
  • Bordertown (Netflix) — Watched Season 1.  Finnish crime drama. According to Wikipedia over 1/5 of the Finnish population watched episode 1 of this show when it aired.
  • Designated Survivor (ABC) — Why am I still watching this???? I quit watching.
  • Evolution of Hip-Hop (Netflix) — Four episode miniseries. Fantastic.
  • Fargo (FX) — Watching Season 3
  • Fields of Glory (Hulu) — Shorts on about 10 college football stadiums.
  • Friends with Benefits (Netflix) — Season 1. Fun.
  • The Finder (Netflix) — Watched Season 1. I like these shows with quirky characters.
  • Girls (HBO) — Finished the last season of this one.
  • Halt and Catch Fire (Netflix) — Watched Season 3
  • Harlots (Hulu) — New series. Pretty good.
  • Homeland (Showtime) — Watched Season 6
  • Lucifer (Fox) — Watching the second half of Season 2.
  • Madame Secretary (CBS) — Watching second half of Season 3
  • The Magicians (Netflix) — Watched Season 1.
  • Narcos (Netflix) — Watching Season 2
  • The Path (Hulu) — Watching Season 2. Getting boring. Stopped watching.
  • Private Sales (Amazon Prime) — Watched Season 1. Not great. Campy enough though.
  • Rectify (Netflix) — Watched Seasons 1–4. This is one of the most heartbreaking shows I have ever watched.
  • Taken (NBC) — Started watching Season 1...same question as Designated Survivor...why?? Also quit watching this.
  • This is Us (Hulu) — Finished watching Season 1

Summer 2017 (June/July/August)
  • The Affair (Showtime) — Quit watching.
  • Animal Kingdom (TNT) — Watching Season 2. Boring.
  • Ballers (HBO) — Watching Season 3
  • Better Call Saul (AMC) — Finished watching Season 3
  • Billions (HBO) — Finished watching Season 2
  • Bloodline (Netflix) — Watching Season 3—The last season.
  • Casual (Hulu) — Watching Season 3
  • Fargo (FX) — Finished watching Season 3
  • Flaked (Netflix) — Watched Season 2
  • Game of Thrones (HBO) — Watching Season 7.
  • Harlots (Hulu) — Watching Season 1
  • Narcos (Netflix) — Finished watching Season 2
  • The Night Shift (Netflix) — Watched Season 1–3
  • Ray Donovan (Showtime) — Watching Season 5
  • Royal Pains (Netflix) — Watched Season 1–7
  • Sherlock (Netflix) — Watching Season 4
  • Turn (AMC) — Watching Season 4—The last season.
  • Will (TNT On Demand) — Watched Season 1. Love this.


When Your Soul is Crushed by the Man

What do you do when the places you love lose their soul? I used to love Dinkytown, especially its bookstores and coffee shops. All of them just made me happy. Now, we are down to a single bookstore (which although it is smaller, still makes me happy) and only a couple independent coffee shops.

The coffee shops of Dinkytown have a special place in my heart. Expresso Royale, one of the first coffee shops I went to in Dinkytown, long before I even started at the University of Minnesota, is still one of my favorites. It has that independent coffee shop atmosphere; the aroma of freshly ground beans wafts throughout the shop, while the sounds of hipster lit majors mixes with those of the aspiring anti-establishment political science wonks. Over time their prices have risen, but given the rent in Dinkytown, I see that as a necessary evil.

The Purple Onion, on the other hand, has lost its way. Before it moved to its University Avenue location, it was a great place. Open. Loud. Full of thinkers and artists. It fit Dinkytown. The grungy artistic feel it once had has been replaced with a sterile downtown-loft like feel; more likely to be frequented by wall-streeters instead of 4th streeters. Its coffee prices, which have risen at a higher rate than any other coffee shop in Dinkytown (including Starbucks) are also more in line with wall-streeters.

The Purple Onion at its old location on the corner of 4th street and 14th Ave. This location, which was split after the move, now houses a Potbelly and a Qdoba.

Going to the PO (that's what the locals call it) just makes me feel sad; it has lost all the character it once had. It is crazy to say, and I cringe as I write it, but currently the Dinkytown Starbucks has more soul than the PO. So for now, PO, I bid you adieu. Perhaps I will see again one day. If you need to find me, I will be at Expresso Royale.