Thursday, December 22, 2005


Every now and again something happens that is so strange you wonder if it even happened. Case in point, the Russians I just played hockey with. At Vilas Park here in Madison are 2 public rinks with metal goals the city maintains. My roommate and I went up there to skate around and maybe get in a pickup game, certainly unprepared for what was about to transpire. We started warming up and the guys on the ice asked if we wanted in the game, to which we said yes. "Cool, you're on our side. We're playing the Russians over there." I then looked over and it all started to come together -- skating while smoking a cigarrette, while wearing a full adidas jumpsuit was one player. The others weren't as stereotypicaly Russian, aside from the Russian they kept barking at each other over the ice. I became worried immediately and must have shown it. I saw Red Dawn -- I know what can happen. "Don't worry," the guy said. "They don't play like Russians."

So we played a great game at a very low skill level. The Russians skated about as good as we did. It couldn't have been better. We outscored them (for as much as we were keeping score), I got a goal, and I also ended up dropping a Russian at center ice with a nice hit (it was unintentional, really). We unquestionably helped foreign relations tonight.

A great, yet completely surreal time. I'll be back every weeknight for that kind of fun when I get back up here after Christmas. I'll be living on vodka within a few weeks...


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Polar Express

I watched the Polar Express tonight and enjoyed it for the most part, certainly helped by the plasma tv my cousin owns. It looked great and the snow was beautiful, but I can't help but be left with the two things that it seems to be encouraging children: do take rides from strangers and don't ever be afraid to befriend a hobo.

The Tour da Chicago stage 1 is January 8th -- The Elston Knife.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Icey Track Bikes and Jr Hockey

So Thursday night I was riding to the gym on the bike path here in Madison -- the one that wraps around Lake Monona. There is a gradual turn to the left on the path that became my undoing. I was only cruising along at about 15mph, which was fine. The problem existed in the fact that sun had just gone down and a fine glaze of ice had formed over the path. Ergo, I flipped about 90 degrees to the left in mid air and came crashing down. I smashed my left wrist pretty hard -- harder than i have smashed it the last 50 times i smashed it riding or skating in my life. I was able to move it around so I knew I didn't break it, but man it sure felt like it hurt enough to make me think I did. I smashed my keys into my hip the way I used to do in parking lots across the south side of Chicago after missing kickflips or some other trick. Aside from not breaking my wrist I scuffed up my new black ripstop fatigues, which is nice, as they hadn't looked broken in at the time.

The next morning my wrist was swollen and really in pain, but I could still move it in all ways so I was still confident I didn't break it. I did make a small vow to respect the snow/ice in town for a few days until my wrist healed up. I can accept it when the bike gives you a nudge to take a break.

Since I can't bike (which is what I pretty much want to do all the time), I opted for hockey tonight. There is a nice public park here in Madison (Westmorland) with boards up that I've been skating at most nights this past week. So I went there tonight to practice my skating, shoot some wristers, and just get my cardio going in place of the riding I've missed these past few days. After warming up for about 20 minutes, 2 kids (maybe 8-10 years old) came up and wanting to play a 3 man pickup game. They were obviously much smaller than me, but considering that they could outskate me any day of the week, it seemed like a decent match up. We played for about an hour and I lost the puck in most battles but scored a few times. For just getting back into skating this past week I was pleased with how I skated and controlled the puck, but I was mostly pleased with how much fun just playing hockey in the 7 degree Wisconsin night was and remembering the pure joy in watching the puck hit the boards cleanly between the two sticks that represented our meager goal. The simple things really are the best ones.

Neil Young is on SNL tonight.

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