On the plane to Italy! (STILL playing Ultimate frisbee…)

I’m flying to Venice, Italy in route to the 2011 World Championships of Beach Ultimate. Recalling the words of my late Uncle’s Orval and O’Garlan at Christmas reunions: “Raaandy, you still playing that Friizz-bee?”, I stop to ponder why I’m one of the only 52 year olds on Earth that is STILL “playing that frisbee.”

Could it be that there truly is something wrong with me? After all, 90% of my teammates have hung up their cleats long ago.

Peter Pan syndrome, refusing to grow old, childish immaturity? No way! Just still having fun. It’s the “if you don’t use it, you lose it” theory.

To think that my Uncle’s asked that question in the late 80’s, and that here it is almost a half-life later, and I’m sitting in First Class, seat 1-A, bound for Philadelphia, then Venice, Italy— all to chase, catch and throw a spinning plastic toy–well, I suppose it is a fair question that deserves consideration.

And while I’m not sure down-deep just what the real answer is, the long, detailed answer that Jung or Freud would arrive at only after hundreds of hours of psychotherapy; I do know what the short answer is:

It’s still fun. A LOT of fun.

Further entangling the issue, I recall the words of orthopedic surgeon and fellow Florissant Valley Christian Church member Dr. Donald Brancato, after I consulted him with a painful knee in 1986:

“You should stop playing that sport.”

Sorry, doc, but I must be addicted, and my body must be defying logic and science.
Sorry, Uncle Orval and Uncle O’Garlan, but dang it, I’m STILL playing.
When you’re lucky enough that your body still allows you to play the game you love; when it’s still as much fun as it ever was; when you’re fortunate enough to have been a captain and/or leader of 6 National Championship/ World Championship teams— not to mention scores of Regional Championships, Summer and Spring League championships and so on–well, why would you quit?

I’ll know when it’s time. That’s what I’m trusting.

Thanks for reading. :):)

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Day one in Italy: Venice

Venice is amazing, everything you’ve heard and more. The narrow walkways between buildings, yes, I’ve experienced that in other European cities, Prague for example. But the little waterways than run everywhere, and the boats guided by men in black-and-white striped shirts–very cool and very unique!
We walked and walked yesterday and then again in the evening. We stopped and had beer and pizza and calamari at an outdoor cafe. The first place we stopped the waiter was a whiner. He tried to “guilt” us into buying food many times after we sat at one of his tables but only ordered two beers. He was extremely assumptive. We had to tell him “no” several times. He implied that since our table was “set”, it was our duty to eat something. What a douche. Finally we paid 9 Euros each for two beers–a major rip-off in itself–and then left, after he walked away and kind of slammed down the food menus he carried away from our table. We surmised that he’s one of those Italian men that still lives with his Mom. When he goes home tonight to Mommy, he’s going to walk into 40 plus years of dysfunction. She’s going to let him have it, the way he let’s his customers have it. Good luck with that, Giuseppe! As advertised, you can’t find any live music in Venice, save for the “formal” music being played out in the big square. It’s too bad. I was really hoping to stumble into a club with some live music—blues, rock, jazz, acoustic–something, anything?

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Chris Daniels back with his Kings

Last night I saw Chris Daniels and The Kings play at Ameristar casino in Blackhawk, Colorado. It’s an interesting stage set-up. The band is elevated above the circular bar. Chris was diagnosed with leukemia early in 2010. He spent months at M.D. Anderson in Houston where I believe he received a bone marrow (stem cell?) transplant from his sister. The details aren’t important. What’s important is this: after each set Chris would tie the hospital gauze mouth cover thingy around his neck and head. This is quite a sight to see. A Colorado legend on the music scene, Chris, like any musician, has played gigs to near empty rooms. But he’s also played before hundreds of thousands in Europe. To see him tie on this face mask after singing and playing his heart out was such an odd, yet powerful visual. Here’s a guy who was on death’s doorstep, and is still not out of the woods, but he’s back doing what he loves most, playing with his band. His voice was good, his guitar was great, his wit and commentary were as sharp as ever. What an inspiration! Many of us don’t get a “second chance” or a “warning sign” in our lives. Chris did and he’s clearly capitalizing on it. At the end of the show, after he had his mask reattached and was kneeling down fiddling with his gear, I shouted: “Hey Chris, thanks, great show! He looked up and smiled and then lifted the black Cowboy hat off his head and scraped his scalp, which is slowly re-growing hair, as if to say: “I’m back, but God willing I’ll be all the way back!” God bless you, Chris, and good luck in your ongoing battle. You have faced down your own mortality and come out smiling, laughing, singing and still playing a mean guitar, no matter what the genre, no matter rhythm or lead.

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Big Splash! New song/video: “Before I Go”

Randy Ricks reassembled “The Sheen Team” on the year anniversary of recording their cult classic, “Charlie Sheen.” This time, Ricks came up with another song that resonates with truth and honesty, although in a much different fashion than his holding up the mirror to Sheen. “Before I Go” is universal and timeless in its message: don’t take life for granted; do what you need to do and say what you need to say NOW–don’t wait! With the same crack musicians and producers in place (Tom Murphy, guitar, mandolin vocals; Bill Murphy, keyboard, accordion, vocals; Randy Ricks, harmonica and lead vocal; Ian Murphy, sound production; Erik Becker visual production), Ricks added professional comedian and talented singer/songwriter Dan Chopin to round out the mix with some excellent dobro and background vocals. Note from the author: “Two days after I wrote this song, my cousin Darin Westhues, died on icy roads after spreading salt to make extra money for Christmas presents. Darin left a wife and two young children, 7 and 10. He was an awesome, open and giving person. He loved to sing “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Delta Dawn” A Cappella at family reunions. When I woke up on Dec. 13 and wrote this tune, it came to me very quickly, as if the muse sat on my shoulder and I was just a conduit. To have Darin die just two days later, makes me really wonder… I am dedicating this song and video to Darin and all of his family. Darin you will always be missed and never be forgotten. ” Love always, Cousin Randy

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Haiku for Memorial Day, 2010

Haiku for the Day: “Working in their yards, Memorial Day past time, A fitting tribute.”

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Randy Ricks Rocks our World

Charlie Sheen MP3 Download by <a  href=

Charlie Sheen MP3 Download by Randy Ricks
5.0 out of 5 stars Randy Ricks Rocks our World, February 17, 2010
“I’ve been following Randy Ricks’ musical career for several decades now, and am thrilled with his latest composition. Erudite without seeming elite, there is a certain polished rawness that pervades this wonderful song. Ricks seems destined to follow in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan as a folk chronicler of his generation, and where else to start than with cultural icon Charlie Sheen. There are many levels of harmony and meaning to this song, and repeated listenings bring these hues out like a 20 year old Scotch. Bravo to Ricks, let there be many more! ”   —-Jonathan Lindgren, Portland, Oregon.
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Reflections on an NBA Game with a 12 year old: Row 1 Behind Bench

Walker Ricks: “Dad, that was the best NBA game I’ve ever been to.”
Dad: “I’m glad to hear that. It did go into overtime, and we did win.”

Injured Melo, A.C., "Triple A" Arron Afflalo

Nuggets 112, Kings 109 in Overtime

The Nuggets can’t throw it in the ocean in the first half and trail by 16 at the break. Sacramento at one point has 4 white guys and a light-skinned black guy on the court. Not that I care in the least what color they are, but as an impartial observer one can’t help but notice that this is highly unusual for an NBA game. But very interesting. They also have the only Israeli player to ever make an NBA roster. The Nuggets are complaining about the officials. True, they don’t get that “home court love” from the refs very often, even though they are 22-3 at home this year. But complaining about the officials never seems to help. Walker asks me if the refs are racist. The Nuggets get hot in the 3rd quarter and cut the lead in half, sparked by the speedy Ty Lawson off the bench. Melo frowns and shakes his head when Coach Karl calls for Arron Afflalo to sub in for Lawson midway through the 4th quarter. NBA benches are so interesting to observe during a time-out. K-Mart, who has been carrying this team with a double-double streak with Melo injured, struts and poses for his family and friends 10 rows behind us; two former great players, now staff, Adrian Dantley and Stacey Augmon, stand and talk quietly away from the fray. Melo is slightly aloof from the huddle, still apparently upset about decisions Karl made earlier. At one point, hardly anyone is listening to the head coach, the same man who will coach the NBA Western conference All-Stars very soon. Egos galore. “It’s all about ME.” Our society holds these multi-million dollar athletes on a pedestal, but when you sit this close, you really wonder why. My twelve-year old son Walker takes it all in. Arron Afflalo hits a key bucket down the stretch and then makes the game-winning shot with less than 4 seconds left. Maybe Coach Karl knew something after all.

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How I Won a Poetry Slam

"The Artist" Peggy McGivern (left) and her husband, Peter Stravlo: Entrepreneur, Writer, Philosopher, Former State Freestyle Frisbee Champion, Wine Enthusiast.

My good friends Pete Stravlo and Peggy McGivern hosted a party at their art gallery in Denver sometime around the mid-1990’s. There were many talented artists in the crowd: painters, writers, sculpters, musicians, poets, etc.  They decided to have a “live poetry slam.” What fun, I thought, I’ll enter this. There was only one rule. You HAD to include some words they gave you in the poem you created. I can’t remember all of the words, but some of them were “bodice” “revolution” “Nixon” “fondest” and “honest.” I went out and sat in my car and came up with the following poem. I came in and read it for everyone, and advanced to the next round. I kept reading it and kept advancing, until there were just two of us left. Alas, I ended up winning first place in my first ever “Poetry Slam” with this poem. I got to pick out a free piece of art as my prize. I picked a cool little table that Peggy had built and painted. To this day, this winning poem is typed and scotch-taped to the bottom of that little painted table. Here is the winning poem:

The fondest memory I have
is from 1968, the Nixon era
RFK, Martin Luther King, Life Magazine
TV body counts
banging on my small-town door
demanding to be let in

It was June, sticky and humid
when Carla moved into the vacant
brown-shingled house across the street

She was sixteen
with a twinkle in her blue eyes
“Let’s play, ” she said.

I was thirteen and wanting:
adventure, mystery, romance
sex
To have it all
yet remain honest

We hid in the shade
behind the bushes
our tan young skin
cool against the concrete frame
of the basement, watching the
bagworms eat the bush
from our secret perch

Are they alive?
Do they know of the revolution?

I slid my hand beneath
her white cotton bodice
We trembled and kissed
My Mom called me for dinner

It was chicken
and dumplings.

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History of “Charlie Sheen”

The "Sheen Team": Tom & Ian Murphy, Erik Becker, Randy Ricks, Bill Murphy

I wrote a song called Charlie Sheen and made a rough demo of it.  Over Christmas 2009, “3 Murphy’s and a Becker” helped me record it at Soulard Studios in St. Louis. More on that later.  I hope this song has legs and a big upside.

Born in Hollywood, Your Daddy was a Movie Star
You were Born in Hollywood, Your Daddy was a Movie Star
You went from booze and fast cars to cocaine and porn stars
You went from booze and fast cars to cocaine and porn stars

(Chorus)

Charlie Sheen, You’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you can’t stay clean
Charlie Sheen, You’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you can’t stay clean

Denise and Ginger and a woman named Heidi Fleiss
You had Denise and Ginger and a woman named Heidi Fleiss
You took the fall for the stars, all the cheaters in Hollywood
You took the fall for the stars and other cheaters in Hollywood

(Chorus)

Charlie Sheen, you’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you don’t stay clean
Charlie Sheen, you’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you don’t stay clean

You been out of the news, but we knew it wasn’t lastin’
Yeah we thought you had changed, but we knew it wasn’t lastin’
Yeah last night we heard you got in trouble in Aspen
Just last night we heard you were in trouble in Aspen

(Chorus)

Charlie Sheen, You’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you don’t stay clean
Charlie Sheen, You’re on the cover of the magazine
The women love you, you’re the tabloid’s dream
They like you better when you can’t stay clean

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New Orleans

The French Quarter of New Orleans

I’m very happy about the New Orleans Saints going to the Super Bowl. New Orleans has always been one of the great American cities. It’s still not fallen prey to the typical American homogenization. So I have to root for the Saints in this coming Super Bowl, as I suspect the majority of America will. Nothing against Indianapolis, mind you.  I like Indy. I like the “free spirit” “independent streak” of Indy, personified for me by Kurt Vonnegut. But Indy is nothing like New Orleans. Does Indy have strip malls with Home Depot, Starbucks and Wal Mart? I’m pretty sure it does. Maybe parts of ‘Nawlins do, too, for that matter, but that’s not what you picture when you picture ‘Nawlins.  I haven’t been to N.O. for awhile. But that’s where  I was going with my “homogenous” comment. New Orleans, to me, is one of the last American cities that if you were blindfolded and dropped into it, randomly, it would not “look” or “feel” like so much of America does. It has maintained its old-school personality–the food, the culture, the “feel” of the French Quarter and the Garden District. Know what I mean?

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