Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Celebration Station is open all month (Partying with NHRD).

Woooo! Award time!

My last post was about the Boston Derby Dames' award ceremony. While the league is my official "home" in the roller derby world, the ladies of NHRD have always been near and dear to my heart. Before the days of roller derby, I had the pleasure of knowing most of those ladies as I grew up. Knowing their real names before they put on the trappings of their derby personae can make for confusing conversations with some skaters ("Who is Beth, Pelvis?" I will be asked. "Oh, sorry. I meant [insert derby name] was the one who once hit me in the head with a sword."). Still, I'm normally great at keeping the curtain safely between the women and the Great and Powerful Oz(mas?).

Harmony Lix and Terry

Dread and I were picked up at home by Harmony Lix, who brought us up to her home to get dressed for the awards ceremony. Unlike Boston, NHRD demanded formal wear for the event. Dread and I looked damn fine, I must say.

Like many derby awards ceremonies, "Best Skater" or "MVP" categories are right up there with "Best Derby moment caught on tape" and "After party Hero." Tank'd Girl, winner of the last award mentioned, is in Ireland and could not accept the award in person. Whatever pub she's in, I'm sure she's living up to her honorific title.

Dreadnought and I both received awards for supporting the league.

My contributions are shouting out people's names on a PA, drinking water, and paying attention.

Talking with so may of the ladies, refs, and widows about NHRD and Boston made me feel the tendrils of this community wrap around my spirit and refuse to let go. It was in NHRD's warm embrace that Pelvis Costello, announcer, started his play-by-play career next to the Reverend Al Mighty. Now, along with New Hampshire's own Adam Furious, I hope to rock the mike up there for another season.

I did receive a second award that night. It was a skate wheel, spray-painted gold, on a ribbon. It was awarded to me for mentioning blockers and pivots during games. Of course I do. Those are the people who do the most hitting.

Like this!

A few more pictures of the night can be found here. Any more that people have of the night would be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude with a bit of attitude

On Saturday, the Boston Derby Dames held their annual award ceremony. The awards range from the expected (Best Rookie, Most Versatile Player) to the more creative (Heavy Metal Murder Machine). The homemade awards the skaters, refs, and volunteers receive are miniature labors of love, but it's the whole festivities that is the point. It's the epilogue of the 2009 season. It's fitting that the awards are held on the eve of the Holiday Season, because it is a cool-down for the Dames, and those who love them as we shed our derby responsibilities and personae and go back to our biological friends and families for two months before coming back to do it again in 2010.

I feel fortunate to play a small part in the lives of these women who work so hard to do what they love. I'm also humbled by receiving the "Man of the Year" award for my efforts. Being the second person to receive it was an honor as Philzie, the head ref of our league, was the first. Apparently, in order to win the award, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a man
  • Devote time and energy to assist the league
  • have ridden on Philzie's motorcycle as either (a) the driver or (b) held on to him tightly while screaming loudly as the two of you speed through Fenway.

At the end of the ceremony, the attendees went their separate ways to barhop, dance, or go home and sleep. I leave the year filled with a profound joy for everything I was fortunate to witness and be a part of, and optimistic for the future.

Be well,



Here's what the award looks like!

Monday, November 23, 2009

WFTDA Nationals 2009 were smelly, but so are the most wonderful cheeses

The derby season is over folks. It was an amazing ride. 2009 saw the Nutcrackers cap their undefeated season with a victory over the Cosmonaughties. The Boston Massacre made it to Nationals and defeated their first opponents. Their second game against the Texecutioners was a defeat, but considering Texas went on to the Championship match, it only proves Boston had to be beaten by one of the very best to be stopped.

One of the perks of being a derby-widow is that I get to go along on these jaunts across the country, sample the local flavor (which is not found on escalator railings...I know that now), and get to see the amazing athletes from around the derby world come together and smash the ever-loving hell out of each other while scoring points in the name of their home cities. By God (I choose Thor this week), Philadelphia's a great place for competition. Where else could I hear an entire auditorium BOO louder than the train crash that took my first cat's life. Yes, the City of Brotherly Love's sportsmanship infected the ladies and gentlemen of other cities that had come to town to cheer for their favorite teams or spouses....and relentlessly jeer everyone else.

I had the fortune to see Boston's second bout from the lofty perch of the announcer's table next to my eyeball-twin, the Reverend Al Mighty of Providence. With us was Chip Queso from Austin, Texas. I sat third seat, which meant I read off sponsors, commented on the game, and got to enjoy the smell of the sweat-stained penalty boxes and benches. The gym teacher from my old reform school once claimed that working out produces “a clean sweat, one that doesn’t stink” so it wasn't gross that he sat down on the common room couch and dripped from every pore into the foam cushions. He was wrong then and, fifteen years later, the cushioned seats of the team benches only further crushed his hypothesis. Next year, Febreze should be a sponsor of all WFTDA tournaments.

With my announcing out of the way, I was able to sit in the stands with Dread and our friends for the rest of the weekend. It was in the stands that I got to do something I have not done in two years. JUST WATCH GAMES. While doing so, I felt like I was visiting an old amusement park that I hadn't visited since I was a kid. Everything was familiar and fun, yet I'm coming at it from years more of experience. Maybe that metaphor sucks. Maybe you're just a jerk, I don't know. The point is, I had a glimmer of appreciation for the widows in the stands for just being in the audience and loving what our ladies do. Whether you're in a foam lobster suit, keeping people off the track, or chanting "Let's go Boston" in the stands, you, the derby widow, are supporting derby. It's a good thing. Pat yourself on the back quietly, and continue to do what you can to help these ladies kick ass.

Update on 12/01/09: Apparently there was a photo of all the announcers (minus the Reverend Al Mighty, who was out rocking harder than we were at the time). Click on the image below to see it in its glory!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Screams and Shouts when you get burnt out! Our (home) season's over!

The season ended with a triumphant explosion of pink and black as the Nutcrackers closed the season, defeating the Cosmonaughties 109-96. This was the third Championship game in BDD history and was the debut of the Fez Cup trophy. As I had mentioned before, my wife skates on the Nutcrackers while I am the mascot for the Cosmonaughties. Either way, I felt I had won. Watching that game, however, I realize that I didn't have the monopoly on that sentiment.

For the fans, they were treated to a tremendously competitive game, that became so nail-bitingly close in the last few minutes that I have bloody cuticles even now. As Macbook Pros are not liquid-resistant I can only hope I will continue this entry without getting a band-aid or using my iPhone to continue. Just kidding, my hands are raw from mini-golf. The indoor course was dry and hot! But I digressed far too much. I need to put the meat of this compliment-heavy sandwich below the happy -go-lucky word bun above.

Often, you put your business-face forward. We love our audience, we want them to be happy, enjoy their time and come back. Over each season, all of the leagues I know make Atalantean efforts to put on the best bouts imaginable. They do so nearly every time, but it's important to remember it takes work. Hard work. Hard, grueling, brings-out-the-worst-in-the-kindest-souls-I-WILL-KILL-YOU-IF-YOU-SIT-UP-THERE work. When you have a season that puts on two bouts every three weeks, it takes its mental and emotional toll.

My main job is to recruit, train, and manage the volunteer bout staff. It's a tough gig. The initial explosion of help at the beginning of the season means I have a decent pick of people. Super-fans, romantic interests of new skaters, and skaters from other leagues pop out of the woodwork. It works great. However, the challenge this year was to keep a reliable, large pool of people on staff for each event. In training, praising, and feeding my people, I was able to keep most of them. It's actually miraculous. In derby, people do forget that our volunteers are just that --volunteers. They're not paid to be yelled at for not knowing who your mom is, or to be a sudden expert at audio-visual equipment. Don't get me wrong, if a dude sucks, he sucks, and we get rid of him. Thankfully, the vast majority of derby dames this season made it a point to thank the workers of their bouts and even began feeding the volunteers at the end of the night.

Crappy events can wear on you when you're on the top of the heap. As the advocate for our volunteer staff I must do whatever I can to make sure crap gets done. And yet dealing with the social, logistical, and mental hiccups that occur from month-to-month is taxing.

Here is photographic evidence of me before and after a season:

Even with the nasty moments, which you find in almost every job, it's worth it. You shoulder responsibility in a DIY organization so the end-result is that people who come to the bout think it went off without a hitch. If they believe that, you've done your job. When working that hard, I have seen plenty of people tap out rather than go through the process again. The minutiae of the work overshadows why they agreed to do it in the first place. I don't blame them. Shit's hard.

The great thing about derby, however, is that I never forget why I do these things. I started helping out because I love my wife. I continued to help because I love my friends. I will continue to help because I love this game. I am I happy to report I ended the season with more "Woo Hoo" than "@$$% You."

Going into next season, I'd love to make it possible to drain the @$$% You out of everyone's brain meats.

Hooray. Next stop, nationals.

Friday, October 9, 2009

On Championship's Eve

This morning, I awoke to my wife, Dreadnought, sitting upright in the bed at 6AM and growling in pain. The clock's obnoxiously bright face told me it was five in the morning. Asking her what was wrong, I hoped she was merely having one of her bizarre nightmares where she sat up and, still sleeping, screamed out a warning to Harry Potter or attempted to fight the devil. Alas, she was awake and in the painful grip of a muscle spasm. Yikes.

Dread has always been unlucky in terms of injury or illness. Her father was shocked she had chosen roller derby given the various injuries she had suffered throughout her existence. To prove his worries wrong, she tried out, got in, and broke her tailbone. After recovering from that injury, she hurt her knee in a fall. Undeterred, she recovered and had become a vital member of the Nutcrackers. That fact was on my mind as I told her to stay home today, see a doctor and get a massage.

It turned out my instincts were right. A stop at Mount Auburn confirmed she suffered from severe muscle spasms. She is on a muscle relaxer tonight and should be all right for tomorrow. This was one of the first times we hit up the doctor to prevent further harm. It is a good thing. And as a skater husband, I want to do everything I can to see Dread in the championship.

Ha. The life of an athlete wife.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Playoffs over, Cosmos win!

The playoffs in September was a redemption story for the Cosmonaughties. After a defeated streak worthy of the Bad News Bears, Major League, and Ladybugs, the Cosmonaughties had their first win in the playoffs against the Wicked Pissahs and are now in the Championship against the undefeated Nutcrackers. Thus, I will don the chimp mask for another month, cheering the team as they play wife.

I've had the pleasure of cheering the Cosmos against the Nuts twice this year. Both times, they kicked are space brains in with steel-toed ballerina slippers. Truth to be told, there was no surprise to the victories. While the Nutcrackers had a substantial roster of veteran skaters, they were able to utilize the talents of their new break-out stars and build a dream team of all-star jammers and a defensive line that is devastatingly effective.

On the Cosmonaughties side, we've had some odd lineups that rely solely on jamming, with the pack cohesion being spotty and the defensive capabilities anemic. This was puzzling, especially because many of the players on the Cosmonaughties are by no means inferior athletes. However, the playoffs saw these great players finally pull it together and work as a team, not as a group of individual skaters wearing matching uniforms. They come into the Championship with their heads held high and ready to go. And I will be there, cheering on the team I mascot for and quietly rooting for my wife and the Nutcrackers, who have done everything in their power to remain the dominant force this season.

I've been asked repeatedly if cheering for the team my wife is playing against is odd. I answer, "I cheer her almost every day of the year, so I relish the days I get to heckle her." In all seriousness, I'm in an enviable position. At the end of the night, no matter who wins, I can leave the night knowing I backed the champions!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brief update.

Yesterday was intense. In addition to running the security corps, I learned how to operate the auditorium's lighting system. I will post more later in the week as I am headed to provincetown.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow evening, the Cosmonaughties take on the Wicked Pissahs in the last bout of the season before the playoffs. It's been a tough season for the Cosmonaughties, who have been 0 and 3 this season, getting defeated by the Nutcrackers and the Wicked Pissahs in each of their home bouts. Our Sassy Soviet Space Scientists, however, have been steadily improving, making the point-spread of each successive game tighter with a combination of last minute blocking magic and the super speed of their jammers. For Cosmo fans, this game is all about payback -- if we win this one and the playoff, we're in the championship game.

For me, it means I get to once again don the smelly prosthetic face below...

That's right, it's Drago time. Many a derby widow(er) has been a roller derby mascot. In my time screaming and cheering for my wife, I've volunteered/been coerced to wear more than one mascot costume. In my time with Boston I've been:

Dragomir Pisimov, the drunken chimpanzee mascot of the Cosmonaughties. This is my favorite costume, mainly because it was initially something I wore to a roller derby costume party. Shooting apes into space was always funny to me, so I went as the only surviving chimpanzee from the Soviet's failed space chimp program. Pussy Venom asked me if I would be interested in wearing it again and a stupid NASA vs. CCCPjoke* was quickly adopted by the team as a mascot to accompany their robot, the Vulvatron 5000, on the sidelines.

A knight, I guess. This was for an all-star scrimmage in New Hampshire. The team was called "the Dastardly Dragons." Not wanting to find a Godzilla costume on short notice, I threw on plate mail and went as a black knight. Why not?

The other team, "Magic Unicorns," had a young raver dressed as a dog for their mascot, so I think my costume was better.

I've worn that lobster costume, a.k.a. Pinchy McMasshole, to support the Boston Massacre in New York City. It's made entirely of couch foam. Want to know what it's like to wear a couch? Imagine becoming a human soup. Now imagine that soup is being made in a couch where several other human soups have been brewed before. I will take the chimp mask any day. (PS - The Massacre are playing tomorrow, too. They're taking on Detroit and you will see someone else in that costume if you go.)

Being a mascot is good fun, even if you smell awful and are filthy from failing to take off the sweat-stained makeup that covers every part of your body that wasn't covered by a mask/flight suit/couch. It's also a means to jump around and cheer for the team without having to pay. That's pretty cool. The best part of dressing up like and acting the fool is that it's anonymous. On those occasions when you can clean up well enough, you can go the after party without anyone knowing you were the loud prick/cool guy who shouted next to them the whole time. You can also pull a Clark Kent and tell the head ref that the person in the chimp costume wants a "ride home" and will be waiting by said-referee's motorcycle.

"All for you, Philzie..."

Come and see the action! Go to for the details!

* HAM, the only chimp sent successfully to space, was an American project. An old Cold War rumor spoke of a Soviet program to send simians to space was scrapped when NASA beat them to it, and it was decided euthanasia was cheaper than being "second." Drago was supposed to be the only surviving chimp of said program.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

RollerConsolation 2009

What do you get when you get skaters from all over New England together in Manchester's JFK Coliseum who couldn't attend the Vegas throwdown which is RollerCon? You get RollerConsolation!

I arrived at the arena with veteran Nutcrackers Dreadnought and Malicen Thunderland. As we walked through the door, we could feel the heat of derby enthusiasm. That, and the night crippling humidity of a forty-year-old hockey arena in the summer. Check-in was simple, and the setup of the track, announcing booth, and vendor tables took no time at all. The ladies of NHRD are efficient, inviting, and the consummate hostesses.

My cohorts in the announcing circle were New Hampshire's Adam Furious and the immortal Reverend Al Mighty. The Rev is a flashy, charismatic showman whose love of this game is apparent. He's sort of the David Lee Roth of announcing without being a douche. Perhaps I'm man-crushing on him, but as Philzie has banned me from motorcycle rides forever, I have have no choice but to celebrate the Reverend Al. As for Adam Furious, he's a Rock 101 jack-of-all-trades and had a good presence on the mike, really engaged the crowd, and is picking up the game with a speed that's impressive. But it's not about us, it's about the ladies out there tearing up the track so much NASCAR.

RollerConsolation began with a bang. My brain's still swimming from the amount of plays, names, and hits that I will give you highlights...perfect for those with short attention spans.

  • After one of the best National Anthem performances I have ever heard, we introduced the first game, which took a page from the geek-fantasy show "Deadliest Warrior" by pitting Team Pirate vs. Team Ninja. The Pirates made a good run of it, but the stealthy jammers of the Ninjas, paired up with a wall of blockers in black, made short work of the buccaneers. (INSERT PUNS) In this case, despite some fantastic jams, the Ninjas won the bout with 50 points to the Pirates' 24.
  • The first half-time had Brockton's Dead Eye Records giving us the first hip hop event I've seen for Derby yet. The PA wasn't up to snuff on this one, and I think a lot of people missed out on hearing these really tight performers bring it from Brockton to New Hampshire.
  • Watching Killary Clinton face off against Mrs. Dash. These two Cosmonaughties were NO JOKE on the jamming line. It was speed vs. speed the whole way, and it was entertaining as hell to watch. Also, Melanie M. Falcon taking on the MakeOut Bandit? What!
  • The high impact blockers in the Death vs. Taxes match blew away. You cannot go wrong when you have Zoomz Byda Boomz, Etta Maims and Empress Explosiva on your line. Amazing plays with HeLLen Bed from CMRD and the ladies of Death kept Taxes from slaughtering them, but in the end, the score was Taxes 52 to Death 46.
  • Dreadnought of BDD nearly killed the referee Woody Yankabitch when she slid to the outside. He enjoys the abuse, however.
  • Getting to see Hit N' Run Pauline and Rhoda Perdition from Providence play against each other. In the last jam of Water vs. Fire, the two of them switched off going to the penalty box. In reality, I believe that they were collecting penalties just to check in with each other. Final Score: Fire 23 Water 55

Each of these mini-games brought the ladies of New England together, sharing their mutual love of the sport and each other. NHRD should continue to throw this event every year to remind New England what derby is all about: fun.

Until next time,

Pelvis Costello

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Announcing is pretty much all right.

On Saturday, running from my deadlines like a man needing a distraction, I went to Woodbridge, CT to do play-by-play and color commentary for CT roller derby. You may be asking me through telepathy why I would go that far out of my way to yell into a microphone. That's simple, Boston's own B Party and Massacre were playing against Connecticut's Yankee Brutals and Stepford Sabotage.

My wife, the un-defenestrate-able (making words) Dreadnought, was on the B Party. That entire team is amazing, I will tell you what. What do you get when you add the speed of Lil Paine and Killary Clinton to the blocking power of Xena Paradox, Dread, and the Pissahs pivoting line (Bomber and Squish)? I will tell you, 166 points to Connecticut's 38! That's not to say that the Yankee Brutals weren't giving it back as good as they got. For the inaugural bout of CT's B team, they have nothing to be ashamed of and will be real killers in the seasons to come.

I shared mike duties with Hitman Hank, Connecticut's announcer. I love that guy. He's got a real knowledge on how to promote sponsors, vendors, and other events without making himself into a walking commercial. He encouraged me to do play-by-play, which I was really happy to do. Calling action is great, especially if you actually know enough about the game that you can do more than talk about the jammers. Sure, they score the points, but it's the pivots and blockers that make that tough. That's where the fun is, no?

Interestingly enough, the DJ played some of the best music I've ever heard at roller derby. Though it was very rock n' roll heavy (we were in CT, we should have been thankful that it wasn't more Cookie Monster-vocaled hardcore about Gary Busey), it was stuff like Faith No More, the Cramps, and contemporary stuff that actually has some gonads. I liked it. Way better than sudden Bon Jovi (that's after-party drunk music, ladies...sorry).

Curiously, the music was turned down very low before the start of each jam, making the auditorium so quiet I put on a golf voice every once and a while. Every place does it differently, but it did make it awkward to announce every once and a while. If only I had belched or something, that would have broken the ice.

Oh, I don't want to forget the Massacre here. We've seen a real season where they've either been on their game like whoa, or fighting it out with super-amazing teams of death. Last night, we saw the gattling guns of glory bring 230 points of pain. The Stepford Sabotage, with star players like Pearl Jammer and Miz Consepjen fought hard, but only earned 14 points. Some of the biggest pops of the night were for solid grand slams from Maude Forbid, Claire D Way, and Krushpuppy. However, I had to keep myself from screaming with the rest of the crowd when Anna Wrecks'Ya took to the jammer line and rocked the eff out.

As far as the pack went, that was the most solid line of pantsless aggression I've seen in a long time. Shattered dominated, got in a good sweep o' payback in the second period, and Feevs played through a broken middle finger, which merely gives her an excuse to use the digit even more. There were great setups by LCD and Puss who were able to keep the CT jammers back while Maims knocked them out of the track like so much wrecking ball.

Sugar Daddy, by the way, rules. But not as much as Philzie, who once let me ride on the back of his bike on Landsdowne while I screamed like a meth-addled hooker. To this date, he laments that polygamy is not legal in our country. Too bad for you, Mister Zie.

It was a good night, which was topped off by late night dining at Rein's Deli with Three Day Bender, Dread, and merch maven Bryan.

Next week, I'm in Manchester, NH with the Reverend Al Mighty. Join us as we yell at you during RollerConsolation, the mega derby event of New England.

Your prom king,

Pelvis Costello