In Which Ryan Doesn't Have A Team In The Playoffs

June 2021 | 2:6

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Koopa would like to know why he is not currently receiving tummy skritches.

What's Been Happening

I was once advised by a therapist to get into watching sports as a way to get more comfortable with the idea that I can’t control everything. It was a nice theory; sometimes you just lose the game, and especially if you’re watching and not playing you have to learn how to handle being emotionally invested while not being able to affect the outcome. I had just moved to Chicago and hadn’t been following hockey for a while so it also served as a nice excuse to reconnect with a sport I enjoy and that has roots with my family, plus it was 2007 and the Blackhawks were terrible so I wasn’t going to be hopping on as a bandwagon fan.

Like many of my plans, this backfired rather spectacularly.

The Blackhawks added some players and went on one of the great runs of the modern hockey era, winning 3 championships in 6 years and being in contention for at least a couple more. I gained an at best unrealistic expectation about seeing the team I was rooting for win, which was rather enjoyable but definitely not what the therapist was aiming for. As an added bonus, like any good sports fan I developed some highly ingrained superstitions about what I could do, wear, drink, etc., during hockey games, because while on the one hand I could develop healthy life habits or simply watch the game, on the other who am I to question the mystical power of what shirt I’m wearing?

In the present, the Blackhawks are rebuilding (read as, “not particularly good at hockey compared to other NHL teams”) so I’ve finally been experiencing what that therapist was hoping I would learn. I’m still emotionally invested, and superstitious, but I’m able to enjoy the game for what it is, celebrate small things, and find reason to hope even when things are obviously not going well. That resilience is serving me well these days as we all try to figure out what to do while the world is reinvented on the fly, and I’m sure everyone reading can see and apply that value. What I really want to share though is this; unrealistic expectations are sometimes pretty great.

You don’t need to do anything stupid or unsafe, and this should never be an excuse for a crappy plan or just lacking one entirely. But if the risk is disappointment, or emotional pain when you’re already down, or it simply looks like things are going to happen a certain way due to things you can’t control? Try anyways. I’m glad I’m learning to accept a lack of control, and to just enjoy things for what they are, but I’m more glad that I learned to hope for the best along the way. In the words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

Chart O' The Month

Folks' SongMedium Ensemble
00:00 / 10:00

“Folks’ Song” is one of my favorite charts to listen to and play, so as I’m getting the itch to go make music with people again this chart has popped in my consciousness quite a bit. There is a version for standard big band but it’s one of a handful of charts where I really feel like the music lives in the Medium Ensemble setting and this is one of the better recordings we’ve gotten over the years.

Musically it started like a lot of my charts do with some rather liberal borrowing. The four-note figure that starts the piece comes from “Battle Cry” by Ryan Kisor, one of the first songs I ever arranged for big band and written by one of my favorite jazz trumpet players. I turned it into a piano montuno, inverted the notes for the left hand, and the rest of the song developed on its own. The title comes partly from my love of Cuban folk music and in particular its simplicity and joy, but mostly just from my love of my folks. My family has always been there, and always supported me, and just generically been good examples of who I want to be when I finally decide to grow up. It’s part thank you, and part celebration, but mostly it’s just fun and comforting and a small attempt at representing emotionally how my folks make me feel.

Epidendrum 'Pacific Sunset' x 'Pink Rabbit'.JPG

Look, Nature!

This is a Leucocoryne coquimbensis, and it would be difficult for me to know less about this flower other than that my wife labeled the picture as "Leucocoryne coquimbensis" and I think it's pretty.

Education Notes

Happy summer vacation! If you're already planning for the fall, stop and do that next week.