Monday, May 30, 2011


I'm not going to lie.  The last six months have been something of a grind.  Ever since the St. George Marathon my zest for running has waned.  Part of it was due to the weather, nasty weather in Sacramento.  Part of it was from the mind-numbing pressure that came from work.

I've run one race since St. George.  I took part in a marathon relay in December.  It was eight hilly miles run at 8 minute pace.  The very thought of running fast or even attempting to race held no interest.  I just tried to run even to make sure I didn't get completely out of shape.  It's been a lot of 18 and 22 mile weeks.  That is until this last week.

I managed to get in 31 miles.  It's not a lot but it's a start.  It's the end of May and I'm barely over 400 miles for the year.  That's about 200 less than where I was at a year ago.  The weather this week was almost perfect.  Every run felt light and easy.  The biggest impediment now to any serious training is my right hip.  It hurts, not a lot, but it hurts.  I don't walk with a limp.  I don't run with a limp.  But I can tell near the end of any run of more than an hour that it's a problem. 

It's a dull ache about half the time.  A lot of the pain depends on where I sit and how I sit.  Sometimes it keeps me awake at night.  It's sad to think that at some point I may need a hip replacement.  But I feel better about my running now and the thought has crept into my mind that a little fast running wouldn't hurt, maybe even a race.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Jayhawks

We're talking music, not hoops.  I was stumbling around the Internet last night and found some good clips of one of my favorite bands.  A sparkling alternative country, rocking, group straight out of Minnesota.  The Jayhawks were originally powered by two singer/songwriters Gary Louris and Mark Olson.  Hollywood Town Hall put them on the map in the early 90's but the group could never get any traction.

They were a favorite of David Letterman and created a lot of good music.  But Louris and Olson went their separate ways.  Louris kept The Jayhawks alive until 2003 with what I think was their best album, Rainy Day Music.  But that was all she wrote. 

But the fans remained loyal and from time to time they would perform.  Then Olson decided to set aside whatever differences that caused the initial departure and work started on another album.  The Jayhawks are set to tour this summer.  It's about the only way bands can make mony anymore.  The Internet has destroyed the primary income stream of struggling bands, especially ones like The Jayhawks.

I can't wait to hear what comes of the reunion.  If you go to the band website you can download a live concert from last year which gives you a  flavor of just how good this band is.  Give them a listen.  It's great pop music, even covers like this one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob at 70

A lot can happen in 50 years.  From the time Bob Dylan arrived in New York City in the winter of 1961 he's carved out an astounding nitch in American music that is as vital today on the occassion of his 70th birthday as it was when he penned iconic songs like "Blowin in the Wind" and "Masters of War" in his early 20's.  Less than a half dozen American artists can make such a claim.  And fewer singer-song writer's are in that esteemed group.

I was a late bloomer as a Dylan fan.  It wasn't until the night of my graduation from high school that I experienced a mind-blowing night with my favorite high school teacher Tony Gauthier, listening to early Dylan.  I was vaguely aware of Dylan's music but hearing songs like "Talkin' World War Three Blues" and other gems from those early albums opened my eyes and ears.  How could one not be captured by a song like "Love Minus Zero, No Limit."

Later that same summer I was at a party following an epic three hour Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert when Steve Woods put "Blonde on Blonde" on the turntable and I was captured by the wild, thin, mercury, sound.  I began buying Dylan albums and the rest as we say is history.

I will admit Bob lost me when he went through his Christian phase in the early 80's.  It wasn't until the early 90's when I stumbled upon "Empire Burlseque" and teared up at hearing "Emotionally Yours" that I realized that Dylan could still make relevant music.  While much of his music was hit and miss during that period Bob Dylan somehow pulled his talents together to make four unbelievable albums over the last 15 years. 

Yes, his voice is worn and frazzled, but listen to the message, not the messenger.  He speaks the truth about life, love, and the inevitable decline that comes with age.  Bob Dylan can still deliver the goods even at 70.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Paul Splittorff is a class act.  He's in the fight of his life right now against cancer.  Split graced the mound for the Kansas City Royals for 15 seasons.  I watched him pitch the very first game in Royals Stadium when it opened in 1973.  It was a 12 to 1 win over the Texas Rangers.

He played in an era when teams didn't have revolving lineups because of free agency.  Splittorff pitched only for the Royals, became the then expansion team's first 20 game winner and missed out by one year being on the only Kansas City team to win a World Series.  That still makes me sad.

Splittorff was a very good major league pitcher.  He became an even better broadcaster after he hung up his glove.  Split was equally adapt at doing color for baseball as he was handling a college basketball game.

It's been a tough week for baseball.  Cancer also took one of its greatest sluggers this week, Harmon Killebrew.  Killer had a short stint with the Royals at the end of his career.  He was a beast.  A stocky, right handed hitter, he crushed massive home runs for the Senators and then the Twins.

One of my favorite trivia questions involves Killebrew.  How did he first enter a baseball game?  Amazingly, this great home run hitter came in as a pinch runner.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everytime You Go Away

Let's admit it.  The 1980's was bereft of really great music.  A few bands managed to break the mold and do some amazing things like U2 and REM and Bruce Springsteen carried the banner for rock and roll through much of the decade.  But synthesizers and hair bands nearly killed the 80's.

But I must admit to a weakness for one particular piece of 80's shlock.  I can remember the first time I heard this song.  I was driving on a Saturday morning from Kansas City to Lawrence on K-10 when this tune came on KY102.  I like this particular performance because you can see a young Mark Knopler, Eric Clapton, and Elton John playing.

I love this song for some weird reason. I was in a relationship at the time but I don't think my attachment to this particular song was connected to what was going on in my life at the time. I just thought it was a great love song. Anyway, enjoy Paul and George, they look pretty young too.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Special Sunday Night

This is the time of the year I love best.  It is the time of the Boston Marathon, the Kansas, Drake and Penn Relays.  It is when my favorite sport, track and field, begins to get serious.  I couldn't resist the temptation of taking in one of this country's great track meets last weekend, the Payton Jordan Invitational.

Palo Alto with good traffic is only two hours or so away.  So Sunday afternoon I drove through the Bay Area taking in the splendor of San Francisco before rolling into Cobb Stadium at Stanford University.  I hadn't attended a truly world class track meet in five years.  The last one was the 2006 edition of the Kansas Relays, the meet where Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin got caught for doping.

I went to Stanford hoping to see some world class distance running.  The cool spring evenings in Palo Alto had produced some stunning results over the last decade or so.  Last year's edition saw Chris Solinsky run an American record for 10,000 meters in 26:59.6, making him the first white man to break the 27 minute mark.

The rumblings prior to this meet where of a possible American record effort in the 10,000 on the women's side by Shalane Flanagan and a major effort in the men's race by a dozen or so athletes bent on getting the Olympic qualifying standard.

Most of all I wanted to see Matt Tegenkamp run his first competitive 10K on the track.  I had seen him run as a high school star when he starred at Lee's Summit in the Kansas City area.  Tegenkamp was world class at 5,000 and for the last four or five years running fans had clamored for him to try the longer race.

I had arrived early for the meet, almost too early, sitting through five hours of exciting 800's, 1,500's, and 5,000 meter races including some steeplechases.  I saw Jordan Hasay, Lopez Lomong, and a contingent of distance runners from the University of Kansas.  My backside was sore after sitting through the evening on the hard aluminum bleacers, waiting for the big 10K's.  But as the sun set, the breezes died, and the conditions became ideal.

The women's lacked a quality pace maker so it was left to Shalane Flanagan and to Sally Kipeygo to make the race.  You could tell early on there would be no record.  The question would be if Kipeygo who was making her 10K debut on the track could withstand the strength of Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan.  Kipeygo had the kick and got the win as a group of Stanford athletes drummed out a rhythm in the cool night air.

The men's race saw Solinsky pace a group of a dozen other runners through a perfect first 5K in 13:44.  The field filed along in a long string for the next six laps when an unknown Kenyan Bedan Karoki squirted away from the field.  A four second gap became eight in the space of a lap.  Finally Tegenkamp gave chase with only Bobby Curtis following him.  By the penultimate lap Karoki was winning in a romp while a half dozen or so runners had reeled in Tegenkamp and Curtis for a stirring stretch run.

When it was over Karoki had run the fastest 10K I had ever witnessed, 27:13.67.  Tegenkamp showed a disappointing kick but ran a very respectable 27:28.22 to finish 6th, part of a pack of 14 runners to meet the Olympic "A" standard.  It was an exciting night of racing.  It was as good as anything you could see at the super meets in Europe.  The only thing better would be to put a field of this quality in these kind of conditions in front of a crowd at Hayward Field.  Nothing against these laid Californians, but Eugene does it better.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's In a Name?

Not since the Cold War has a secret been so tightly guarded between Russians and Americans.  At least not since the birth of Masha Dorofeeva in 2006.  The Czarina's daughter and her husband wouldn't tell anyone about their plans to name their first born.  They went with Masha or Maria if you will and she's been the center of their universe ever since.
That is until the arrival of a second family member about ten days ago.  Again the Riga clan kept mum on their name choices for this baby.  But persistent questioning over Skype by the Czarina found a crack in the wall of silence that had descended on Eastern Europe.  But it may have been a KGB diversion because in the end it all got mixed up.

Vlad and Natasha welcomed a second little girl into this world on Good Friday, April 22.  For three days the outside world waited word on a name for the little bundle of joy and finally the announcement came from on high, Sophia.  The inner works of the Dorofeev clan was explained to me by Dad shortly after the big event and it seems Sophia was a compromise pushed by the precocious Masha.  But by weeks end the name coalition had come to an end and a stunning reversal was engineered, more impressive than any politicking seen behind the walls of the Kremlin.
Meet Dasha Dorofeeva.  Mom wanted some symmetry to the names of the women in the family.  So now we have Nastasha, Masha and Dasha.  Or you can call her Daria, but I don't want to hear any Beavis and Butthead jokes, okay?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sacramento is keeping the Kings, at least for one more season.  Mayor Kevin Johnson did what one month ago any right thinking human would have called impossible.  He convinced the NBA and to some extent the Maloofs that the money is here for the team to be successful and most importantly, he can get a new arena built.

Johnson had a big assist from Southern California.  You can bet that Lakers owner Jerry Buss was pulling every string imaginable to keep the Kings from moving to Anaheim.  Why should he share any part of his lucrative TV contract.  NBA commissioner David Stern knows he needs to keep Buss happy should the league move toward more revenue sharing.

The Maloofs have to be wondering what was going on in their front office if Johnson could suck an extra $10 million out of area businesses.  What were their sales people doing anyway?  A major overhaul needs to happen in the front office and it appears the NBA is sending help this week to see that it happens.

But none of this matters without a new arena.  It's clear there's no appetite in the community for any taxes to build a new arena.  Sacramento needs to convince the county and the region as a whole that having the NBA here is important to the area.  The key may lie with the state legislature and the creation of some authority that can raise funding to build the arena.

They've got ten months to do it and the irony of it all is if it doesn't happen, don't count on the Kings going to Anaheim.  The irony is that the Kings could end up back in Kansas City.  The Sprint Center beckons and the whispers are that the NBA will opt for a return to the Midwest should Sacramento fail to deliver.