Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dreadnought

As of midnight, Dreadnought is now thirty-two. Roller Derby has been in our life for over three years. Since she was freshmeat, the ladies of the Boston Derby Dames and other New England leagues have assembled at either our home or rented out dancehalls to celebrate the passing of another year of Dread's life.

This year's celebration was held early. Unlike last year, there was no piƱata.

Elmo demanded tickles from the wrong lady.

Yes, Muppet slaughter was the highlight of 2009's party. Dread's battle axe cleaved Elmo, and much of the candy, in twain. Aware that we would have twice the people over as last year, the concept of swinging around Medieval weaponry was terrifying. We opted for another option with the same level of mayhem: Tree House Karaoke!

Hayley Contagious was the first to arrive, and helped me set up the party decorations and to test out the sound system. After "Allentown," "Aces High," and other karaoke staples we were raring to go. Our new apartment is larger than our previous one. However, I quickly discovered many of our friends are much like tigers raised in captivity. Open the cage door and they still cling to smaller environs for security.

On a special Meerkat Manor, BDD and NHRD invade my loft.
The loft in our treehouse is where I get most of my writing done. Typically, I'm the only one up there. However, from the start of the party to the end of the night, it had no fewer than seven people up there at any time. At one point, we had an entire team-load of skaters up there, singing along with Dread and Farmer Geddon to "Jackson." I'd upload the video, but it would melt your face.

Reverend Al, Chum Chum, Sticky, and our Dear Dr. Pepper Spray kept the jams going. Hayley and Dee kept reminding us they were ear delicious. Not to be upstaged, my erstwhile partner in crime, Johnny Deep,  took the microphone. "All right," he said. "Things are way too upbeat. Time for 50 CCs of melancholy."

Without missing a beat, he launched into "Sailing."

Leave it to Johnny Deep to break out Christopher Cross.
And. It. Was. Amazing.

I hate that song, I hate it. But under the auspices of Dread's birthday, Johnny's dead-on Christopher Cross left the party speechless. The sheer talent and fearlessness on display from all of the members of New England Roller Derby in attendance was staggering.

Chopper and Pep-Pep hold it down.

The Commodores brings out the animal in the Prince.

Goblin is a fine pillow.

A derby's eye view.

As the night wore on, and nearly everyone had a turn to either murder or massage their fellow guests' inner ear canals, Dread was overcome with the love and support of so many people with whom she had shared the track and long car-trips to away games with over her derby career. Those who couldn't make it were missed, but those who answered the call kept the night roaring.

Malicen Thunderland helped me hit the high notes of "Run to the Hills." Moody and Crowbar joined the chorus of folks who sang along to Bender's rendition of "Fairytale in New York," and current Massacre coach, Lil' Paine and I discussed arson and Vlad the Impaler. Good times.

The party was closed down by Dee, Eric, Nick, Hayley, Mike, and the hosts singing until 2:30AM. The next day, my voice was fine. Perhaps that book Lady O gave me is helping after all.

Today, on the actual anniversary of Dreadnought escaping the womb and racing into the world, I feel lucky. She is my light, my best friend, and marrying her is my greatest accomplishment to date. If you think that's sad, it's likely you have a lonely existence and I am laughing at you.

Happy Birthday, darling. I love you.

Adorable card from Jessie's folks.
Pictured here: Fate.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Post

The season's behind us. It's over. After today's feast, many of us have several more days of family time, resting our bruised bodies (vocal cords, minds, a few egos), and looking forward to the next season, and what's coming around turn one of 2011. With respect to the holiday, I wanted to talk about what moments I was most thankful for this season.

Before we start, however, I googled "Turkey in Rollerskates" for this entry. Here are two images from the first page of thumbnails:

The turkey seems to be at least anticipating a roller disco. The lady, though, just has her boobies out. What the hell, internet?

I tend to give you all the most positive, funny moments of roller derby because there's already plenty of things to whine and complain about out there. To have roller derby in your life means you are part of a very passionate community. It's like being part of an immense extended family. Occasionally, you're in the room with your arsonist cousin, or your ridiculously vain aunt who can never seem to see the hairy, red mole on her cheek. You grin and bear it, wish them well and look for the relatives you want to talk to before you head home. It's life. Not everyone has to get along. Nor should we. Let us celebrate what goes right. So, in the spirit of showing off our brightest colors, here's what I've loved this year.

Sunday afternoon cooldowns w/ the Paines
From the start of the season until June, this was derby sacrament. Lil Paine and the Prince (aka The Kid, AKA Prince of Paine, etc) would get together with Dread and I after a bout to decompress and hang around. It was something that I always looked forward to, and though time and other aspects of life got in the way, I hope it will return.

Power Jammers, the podcast I do with Solo, Johnny Deep, Lady O and Three-Day Bender really started to take shape this year. We recorded thirty-eight podcasts. Hell, because of our prodding, we got NHRD and GMDD to play a rematch at the end of the year. Unfortunately, it was during the BDD playoffs and we couldn't go! The site's getting an overhaul, and we're stepping up our game for the next season. The market's flooding, and we want to expand.

ECDX, Regionals, and Championships
Wow. Yes, I called at 2009 Nationals, but ECDX allowed me to get to know (and learn to love) so many people from all over the world.  Hell, I talked about these experiences in this blog before.  Still, it's good to know that there are so many people out there who are friendly, kind, and not so stuck up their own bums to shed their pretentious "game faces" and have fun.

I am on teh WEBZ!
Regionals, being able to call with "old" friends made months prior, was a dream come true. I can't wait to do more of it.

Bout Production
This one's bittersweet. To take on a job like this and build a process by which future heads will go by (or toss aside like so much "whatevs") was a huge challenge. Bully, Chris and I took it on, took a few hits in popularity at times, but people were mostly really happy with us. There are people that got hurt, which really makes me feel awful, but in the end we left it better than we found it. Personally, I'm glad to be rid of it, but man did we do some pretty cool things.

As a writer, I love to experience everything I can, so traveling the country to see this sport has been rewarding. Meeting people around town that had nothing to with derby is always neat. For example, I neglected to mention in my last post was that an older waitress in Chicago fell in love with me and was excited that I ate all of my biscuits and gravy. The Splatters and Dread teased me, but I believe that she was getting a contact high from all my gratitude and good manners. 

I have been a mascot, a security guard, lighting guy, volunteer (and then bout) coordinator, but the best job in this sport is announcing. Also, it's something that I get better at every time I get on the microphone. My best work, I feel, was during Regionals. Why? Because I stuck to the game and did more play-by-play than ever and I was still funny.  And a special thank you to everyone at the Derby News Network who gave me opportunities to make my Dad proud. Thank you.

Calling with Reverend Al, Lady O, Dumptruck, and so many GREAT people only makes me want to work harder. Which brings me to this:

Lady O and the Reverend Al Mighty

There's a lot of things in life I'm thankful for, and the two of them are on the level of my favorite writers and professors. 

I have no small amount of love for Lady Oshun, without whom I am adrift on the PA systems of New England. Her thunderous, smooth voice casts out the greatest team introductions I have ever heard. Other announcers have remarked to feeling chills when hearing her summon Boston's skaters to the track. I have never gotten over the novelty of her ability, willingness to exceed her own expectations, and to put her all into everything we do. She inspires me not to just be a better emcee, but a better man. 

Jim Henson's creature shop created the "Pelvis Costello" Muppet to say the things Lady O doesn't care to.
Truly, I am blessed to know her and call her my friend and partner. By partner, I mean it in the sense your grandfather thinks of before realizing you mean "lover." Our platonic lovefest is one for the ages.

Of course, where would I be without the Reverend Al? Likely, I'd still be a chimpanzee shouting and leaping for the Cosmonaughties. He may have saved my knees from further damage, but at the cost of all of your ears. That suits me fine. Over the past few years, the two of us have become very good friends. He's one of the wisest, kindest men you could meet. What may surprise you, is how much he is willing to share the microphone, his food, bronzer, whatever you need. Reverend Al is the best roommate I have ever had, outside of Dread, for any road trip, and I will always be grateful to him for telling me to ditch the fur for announcing.

And he was a barbarian for my birthday!

Dreadnought's everything
Announcing is my job in derby. My reason for being here, what really gets me excited, is watching Dread play. Watching her come along, improve with every game, and give this sport her everything is what made me get involved in the first place. From her starting point to now, she's become a real force on and off the track. Now, she's going to be the Nuts' 2011 co-captain. Hard work pays off, people.
It's my height that causes women to hold me like a rockabilly lapdog.
Dread is my muse, my confidant, and my wife. She's also my best friend. More importantly, she is my favorite player.

2011 has a tough act to follow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 Nationals - An efficient, if late recap of my favorite moments

Hello folks, it’s been a while. In the two weeks since the 2010 Championships, I’ve been busy writing new short stories, assuring graduate school I have not forgotten it, and teaching the dog how to cook Lamb Vindaloo. I’ve been so busy, that I neglected to post any entries about my time in Chicago with the fantastic ladies and gentlemen of WFTDA, particularly those I favor more than some of my own family.  Thankfully, Dreadnought has posted a day-by-day breakdown on the Roller Derby Quilt blog about her own experiences. I endorse them, even though I feel I come off a bit “Lindsay Lohan, age 18” in them. I didn’t party all night, folks, I just started my celebration of the coming dawn at 9PM.

Chicago’s influence is still felt in my household. Yes, Uproar on the Lakeshore brought my larynx’s range inevitably closer the Dumptruck/Rev Al markers on my handy scale of vocal health.

Bruce Dickinson is only higher up on the scale because it also is a sub-chart of awesomeness.

The trip’s assault on the velvety-throat of Pelvis was a cunning one. Put me in a hotel with Salome Splatter, her gentleman suitor, Dread, and my dear friends from around the country and there is no way I cannot shut up.  Add the volume of other motor-mouths, great derby, and awesome topics, and my voice was doomed. So doomed that I could not sing at the karaoke bar on Saturday night.

Given time away from this blog, I was thinking how to best cover as much of the action without giving you three, extremely late, recaps. So, I’ve decided to give you some photos that underscore why this weekend was so amazing.

Although I took no photos of the first night in Chicago, I want to point out that there is nothing finer than drinking with Mike Chexx, Mz. Spydr, and the ladies of Rose City before the start of a tournament. It was great to catch-up, kick back, and greet my roommates who had to fly in later than Dread and me with a drink in my hand and a song in my heart. 

Then there was this:

Who really lost the bet? Seriously.
Dumptruck was calling the first bout of the tournament for DNN. The Texecutioners vs. Bay Area was something I had been looking forward to more than anyone else I'd traveled with, and it isn't because of my unappreciated love of Demanda Riot (come on guys, all that ability and being one of the Uruk-Hai? You're the weird ones.). Bay Area's recent uptick in the ratings had me hoping they would win. Hell, Dumptruck was sporting the gold after losing his bet at Westerns in which he believed Denver would knock them out of the running. Even though Texas won against BAD, and by Thor they were excellent, we were treated to the Bay Area D-Bags in all their glory. 

Yes. Roller Derby.
The games were excellent. Even with a couple of blowouts, the gameplay was fantastic. The officiating, minus a few bad calls, was top notch.  I've been all around the country calling games this year, and I witnessed crews doing far, far worse in bouts where people didn't complain about the zebras. So, hats off to the officiating crew.

Texas vs. Gotham was a great way to start the day.

Of course, with all that gameplay, you need to break up the monotony. And, aside from partying, you need to dance:

We bring it so hard, the world goes out of focus.

And eat:
I wasn't going to steal it, I was running on Halls and tea.
And spend time with your friends:
Boston teams cross-pollinating makes my heart fill with blood.
There electricity of Championships could not be denied. For those of you like Lady Oshun and myself, you are wondering what it was like at the after parties. Here's an idea:
Announcers rush the photobooth



I am cheering violence.


  I will not be silenced!
Most nights ended with Lady Oshun and I on the Mezzanine with our buddies until four or five in the morning. We would gab about the games, the best musicals to croon to Justice when he was wearing hot shorts on his head that made him look like the Virgin Mary (Jesus Christ Superstar=no, Grease=yes), and generally fight off the Christmas Eve-like excitement that kept us up until sunrise. During the weekend, I had prided myself with my catlike ability to pad into my room undetected and get into bed without waking the Splatters or Dread. Weeks removed, I am certain I was not so stealthy, but my roommates were tolerant of my early-morning creeping.

There is a ton I am leaving out, mainly because it's fueling some fictional plots that I am working on, but I left Chicago realizing that some of the better moments of my trip were sitting next to Dread and watching games together for a change. That was brilliant.

Love you, roller derby.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Barroom Hero: Dumptruck comes to town

Of all the personalities I've had the pleasure to spend time with this year, Denver's roller derby's own Dumptruck has swiftly become one of my favorite people. In my posts about 2010's Eastern Regionals, I covered the joys of calling games with him. However, there is another side to the roller derby announcer that I did not comment on. Mr. Truck is a man who brings his celebratory nature to everything he does. On the mike, at the gas station, or an exorcism, the man is Dumptruck at every moment. Simply put: he is the gravelly-voiced avatar of the god Dionysis.

On Monday afternoon, I was editing a film review when I received a few text messages from Baby Fighterfly about Dumptruck's impending arrival at Logan airport. Each of her texts were ideas about possible activities all of us could Providence. I was unsure if I wanted to leave the house. Should I accept the invitation, I'd have to drive to Salem, pick up Dumptruck, and then make the trek to Providence. The full travel time would be four hours. A sensible man, one who hadn't grown up in a rural community, would have scoffed. Still, my life has been built around road trips like this. What to do? It took a call from an unknown phone number to assist me in my decision.


Dumptruck on the phone is a shiatsu massage for your eardrums. Within moments, I had committed to come pick him up and made my way to Salem, MA. In the City of the Witch, I met the ladies and gentlemen with whom he works on music festivals, had a pint, and watched him eat the worst cod sandwich Salem pubs have to offer.

The initial plan was to meet Baby at the infamous Club Hell. Club Hell is a bar whose clientele ranges from amazing drag queens to homophobic metalheads, depending on the night. A call to Reverend Al Mighty made us change our plans to meet up at the Hot Club for karaoke. This was a welcome change as I didn't want to pay thirteen dollars to shout over a band which sounds like Gary Busey screaming over feedback.

We arrived at the club to the cheers of our friends. The population of the venue was friendly. So friendly that I had wondered if MDMA had been dropped in everyone's glasses. Then I realized something: when you get three announcers into a situation where gregariousness and a lack of embarrassment is necessary to get on the mike and perform, we'll easily take over.

Reverend Al's "Georgia" was the most surprising song of the night. The gentleman can sing. However, my joy was only heightened by capturing footage of the exception to the rule that rapping at karaoke is a painful thing to witness:

"Work it out." (his asides in the video make it worth it...wear headphones)

By the end of the night, we were on the first name basis with the DJ, the regulars, and the bar staff. When it came time to go home, Dumptruck and I made our way back to Massachusetts. Our Odyssey home hit a snag when noticed there were no open bathrooms to be found on the way North. Gritting my teeth, I made the decision to stop at my house first for a pit stop before bringing Dumpy back to Salem.

It's here where having Dreadnought for a wife is an advantage. Everyone keeps a ledger of their partner's deeds. Mericfully, my wife pays more attention to the "win" column over the stupid things I've done. We entered the house quietly, only to have Goblin wake up and instantly want to play with the raspy-voiced Sasquatch I brought home. While he was waiting his turn for the bathroom, Dumptruck heard Dread saying the loving words "I will kill you all." Deciding to show his appreciation for her strained hospitality, he chatted with her sparingly in the dark of our bedroom.

Photoshop recreation of Dread's view of the evening. In truth, he was wearing glasses and a coat.

Once back in the car, Dumptruck fielded texts from my amused, but annoyed missus, and negotiated my sentence for such a trespass into driving her to work that morning. Under normal circumstances, the average man coming home late at night with his very buzzed friend could be grounds for weeks of sleeping on a couch. However, thanks to Dumptruck (roller derby's own Cat in the Hat) I was instead asked for stories from the previous evening. Like me, Dread loves this ridiculous man with a passion we reserve for our closest relations. Next time he comes to town, however, we're crashing in the city we land in, even if we have to spoon on a love seat. Lightning does not strike twice and Dread's way too strong to tempt fate.

At karaoke, Dumptruck said on the microphone that only roller derby would make it possible to be in Denver in the morning, Salem in the evening, and drinking in Providence that night. But it's also roller derby that allows us to meet people for whom we would drop anything just to spend time with one another.
Be somebody.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day Three: The aVOXalypse or Pelvis becomes Dumptruck of the Shire

Voice rested, I started to sound like my old bony self again. Just before dawn, paranoid the Reverend Al would beat me into the bathroom, I ran into the shower rather than risk two hours of staring at a sleeping Hayley Contagious and Dreadnought. Once clean and dressed, the Reverend Al asked if I wanted breakfast, "for real this time." The fact that the previous day's egg sandwich disturbed my innards worse than all the free drinks I received on our first night, I felt I owed it to myself to have a breakfast that would redeem my faith in the culinary hole that is White Plains.

The ladies refrained from coming with us to the Lower Lobby's restaurant. When we arrived, there were only four other people at the buffet. Considering it was 7:00AM on a Sunday, I shouldn't have been too surprised. Even with only four customers, Reverend Al and I enjoyed the fruits of fame after we got our food.

Not pictured: Reverend Al performing overhead tricep extensions with the fruit table.

Noticing that that the Macho Man and Metrosexual Wolverine had entered the room a woman yelled, "Oh my God, it's you two!"

Ready to thank her already, Reverend Al started to open his mouth until she finished her thought.

"The guys from the elevator!"

Well, hell. We're lords of a moving room, that's cool. We gave her a polite wave, had a sentimental and meaningful discussion with each other, and went up to get the ladies for day three.

If there's one thing that people who have traveled road with me know rue is that I am a morning person. A crazed, ready to go, morning person. So when we arrived at the venue, I was pumped and prepared to go all out.

My love of morning sunshine ruined my Black Metal Career.

As we waited to start, some DJ was wise to this morning energy. Once Depeche Mode came over the PA, I just needed to dance. Yes, mornings make me the drunk blonde girl at every eighties night. While keeping to the downbeat of "Just Can't Get Enough, " I was joined in my revelry with fellow morning warrior, HYMEN HEAVEN. It was a vindication of my spirit and a nod to the Bennington dance parties I have with my fellow grad students.

Now ready to rumble, I called the DC vs Steel City game with Paige Layout, Rockerboy, and KD Caustic. This made is the fifth time I've called a DC game this season.  As our old buddy Mayhem skates on their league, it fills my heart with blood to feel invested in their futures. That investment came at a price. At the end of the game, I became mini-Dumptruck.

My voice was all right if I kept quiet. A whisper? I became Reverend Al. Talking in a manner where people could hear me? Dumptruck. With this newfound vocal range, I had no choice but to record the three of us for a contest that will be featured on the latest Power Jammers podcast. Here's a sample of the game (for the love of Zeus, use your headphones).

The afternoon was filled with some fine-ass derby, and when it came to the bout that had me on pins and needles, I had the pleasure of calling it with Justice Feelgood Marshall. A word on Justice: the dude's brain should be studied by sports scientists and military strategists. Almost nothing gets past him, not even MC Hammer and Skid Row jokes. It was effortless to call the game alongside a man who knows what he's talking about. When the dust settled, Charm City was victorious. Still, it was cool to know my family was watching and had great things to say about Lil Paine and the Massacre. What my parents didn't understand was why I had them tune into a game where the Reverend Al was calling for DNN.
It's DNN Appreciation Day!

The Championship game saw me take the third seat next to Hymen Heaven and Rockerboy. By this time, I was full-on Joan Rivers on HGH. A couple of times, I could have sworn Rocker was giving me the eye that says, "Are you F%^&* with me?" I was not. Third mike was colder than the reception we received by the spray-tanned natives, so speaking quietly was not an option. Rockerboy, who had worked so damn hard the entire weekend went on autopilot. But I will tell you this, you would never know. He's amazing. So too is Hymen Heaven, who is so sharp that you could shave with her wit.

The victorious ladies of Eastern Regionals. Not pictured: Dread teasing me about my voice.

Once the games were over, the celebration began. However, the party was over for me. Voice broken and tired beyond comprehension, I piled Hayley, Dread, and the Reverend into the car and we made our way home. Looking back on my time in White Plains, I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the announcing team, and roller derby in general. Now rested and back to normal, I look at the past weekend with love in my heart for Suburbia and all people who worship the quad skate.

Thank you, Suburbia. We love you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Regionals: Part Two

The next morning was a bit tougher than the first one. The mechanical bull had burned off much of my nervous energy, leaving me exhausted and in much-needed sleep before calling the first bout of the morning. The game was Steel City vs. DC. I was announcing with Double Destroyer and Ida Feltersnatch. But before we went to the venue, I suggested we get breakfast.

"I just need to shower and have a few minutes to get together," said Reverend Al.

In my tired brain, I forgot that I was not dealing with a mere dude, but one who really needed to "get ready." Below is a timelapse reenactment of what I believe transpired in the bathroom while we waited for thirty minutes:

To be fair, he didn't go back to putting on the lipstick, so we didn't have to wait the full three hours. 

Once in the elevator, we made haste to the lobby, hoping to get in line for the buffet. When the door opened, however, the sheer brightness of the Freemason ladies dressed in their ceremonial robes blinded us. Yes, the Crowne Plaza was filled with Freemasons for some sort of convention or ceremony that we could not wrap our heads around. As we rounded the corner, Poppa Feevs let us know that the line for breakfast was insane and that we had better look elsewhere. When the king of the tailgate (whose primary mission on bout day is getting you fed) tells you to give up, you do.

Dejected and sad, we found a Dunkin Donuts where I ate a microwaved bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. I don't normally eat breakfast, but I didn't eat much the day before and needed energy. Sweet, intestinal wrestling energy. My guts feeling betrayed by their pompadour-coiffed master, I got ready to call me some games.

With a constantly mutating schedule, I was blessed that Rockerboy of Carolina and Justice Feelgood Marshall of DNN threw me into as much stuff as they did. Even sweeter was that I was able to call games for some teams more than once. Familiarity with the skaters is a big deal in this sport. When you're rifling through papers to find out the name and number of someone kicking ass, you don't want to miss any action. And I am proud to say I didn't.

In between bouts, I took some time at the roller derby quilt with the missus, Hayley, the Prince of Pain, and Johnny Deep.
The three of them look like they're doing a photoshoot for their band, Purple Paine's, new synthpop album. Yikes.
My throat felt raw around noon and Dread began laughing at the sound of my yelling which had started to sound more and more like Denver's own Dumptruck. I reined in a bit, but you can hear my voice getting gravelly in the DNN replays. As the night wore on, Dread became less thrilled with my vocal damage when Dumptruck, Reverend Al, and I stood behind her and whispered "sweet nothings" into her ear. If your imagination took you to a bad place, that's your brain working against you, not I.

One thing I noticed throughout the day was the Rockerboy was the epitome of speed as he ran through the crowd, setting up the mouths, working with the staff, and calling games with the type of energy reserved for the meth-addled fools of South Caro--- oh yeah. Nevermind. He stopped by the derby quilt and asked Dread if he could test the authenticity of the quilt.  That's the only moment where I thought we lost him.
I never thought one could drool horizontally and not be in orbit.

At the end of the night, Philly and Gotham had already cemented their spots at Regionals and Boston had to go toe-to-toe with their longtime rivals, Charm City. Carolina won against Montreal by two points. This win was marred by a controversial call that later turned out to be totally legal. Whether or not people agree with it is another matter entirely.

Still aching from the mechanical bull, and unable to sound like myself if I had to talk over anyone, which is my default volume anyway, we went out for Asian tapas. Okay, let me back up. We were supposed to meet up with Rocker and Dumptruck, but apparently they had stopped in a bathroom to emulate the Reverend Al's beauty regimen, and we arrived at a saloon at the right time only to find Ed Hardy and spray tans instead of Southern accents and Sass. Thus, we went for Asian cuisine at Haiku. Haiku's food was the ONLY meal I want to remember from the trip, as it was actual food. Delicious. So delicious it inspired this:

Bars filled with Douchebags
New plan, where do we go now?
Eat well, then hotel.
Back at the hotel, we briefly chatted with the ladies of MRD, who had taken over the poolside to shout threats and cursewords at passersby. We love those ladies, they're true New England. <3

Instead of falling right into bed, the Reverend Al gave a speech about teamwork that was impassioned as he was pantsless. Nothing gets you more fired up than a former MMA fighter with the voice of Harvey Firestein explaining group dynamics in very small underpants. For once without a smartass thing to say, I let him finish his speech and we all went to bed....

Tomorrow, Part Three! Jokes! Hoarseness! And newfound appreciation for iPhones!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Regionals: Part One

We were fifteen miles away from White Plains before I noticed my car's gas light was on. Since picking up the Reverend Al in Providence, I was determined to make double-time to our destination while looking out for the ever-sneaky highway patrol and trying to stay engaged in the conversation. After Dread, Hayley, and the Reverend Al were made speechless by a joke I expected to be less funny than it was I took the next exit and we refueled the tank and our bellies.

Once in White Plains, we checked into our hotel and attempted to get some Zs. The night before a tournament is much like Christmas Eve. I can't sleep, because I've never quite grown out of the feeling that sleeping before a big day means I will miss something. That, and my mind was unable to rest after seeing the Reverend Al's idea of pajamas.

He actually doesn't wear the shoes to bed, so there's that.

We did sleep for an hour or so, only to be awoken by an overjoyed Reverend Al Mighty, who loudly sang "Springtime for Hitler" until Dread got moving. After each of us showered, we took the ten minute ride to the venue. White Plains isn't large. It's roughly the size of Waltham, Massachusetts except it's densely populated with blowout hairdos and muscle-queens. Still, the ladies of Suburbia Roller Derby don't fit the zip code's stereotypical mold and they are among the fairest of skaters in the land...though their ability to run a tournament is far more important.

The arena was glorious, its appearance a cross between high school gymnasium and a theater with balconies. The hybridization of these two venues conjured images of other hybrids in my mind, such as Massacre widows embracing their lofty perches whilst continuing to vocalize their support of a ruffle-butt revolution.

Not pictured - Tommy Rock's fainting spell after the win against Montreal brought on by lead face powder and "vapors."

Calling the first game with the incomparable Dumptruck was a dream come true. Being able to just have an entertaining conversation about derby while still providing color commentary was sublime. Throughout the day, I ran back and forth from the DNN table on the stage to the announcer's nest on the floor of the venue. Thankfully, my voice held up.

After the last game of the night, it was a quick stop to the hotel. The Reverend Al and I wore matching outfits out on the town that made me realize how my Dad must feel on holidays. We barhopped through the fist-pumping dives of Mamoraneck drive until we arrived at The Thirsty Turtle. It was here where Hayley, Baby Fighterfly and I took turns on the mechanical bull.

One-handed, but she did kiss the bull beforehand.
Baby and Hayley had impressive times (Baby 28, Hayley 24). The operator of the bull was a bit of a douche, cranking up the speed on those he thought were drunk and slowing down the bucks on the women who rode the bull in short skirts. A 58 second record was called out before I hopped on, but the lady wasn't wearing underpants. Undaunted by the fear of contracting the "Herpe AIDS," (A vile quote from a local) I hopped on. 19 seconds. Still, the ladies of BDD and PRD deserved to win. As the night wore on, we were aware that the young men of the Jersey Shore White Plains night scene were unsure what to do with the flashy and classy that had appeared from nowhere at their favorite nightspot. Did we not realize this was their place?

Pictured here: Townie waiting for his turn on the mechanical bull.
We did. After a few incidents of chest-beating and dog-park antics, we decided to call it a night. We went to sleep, dreaming of derby and spray tans.

Tomorrow: Day Two! Where Rockerboy goes crazy, the crowd goes wild, and I slowly become Tom Waits!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Packing up the car for Regionals.

The home season behind us, Dread and I are headed to White Plains, New York to both watch and do our parts at the Eastern Regionals tournament, or "Derby in the Burbs." The missus has a vendor table to display her largest artistic piece, the roller derby quilt. Dreadnought's forty-pound quilt has been packed into the car in a bag that would be less taxed if it held wild game or at least one sad pug who is more than aware that derby is taking her parents away for the weekend.

Thankfully, we are leaving her with the Wii.

 Packing the quilt provided me with a sense of accomplishment. Not only could I lift such an awkwardly-heavy load and easily navigate the stairs, I was able to jam it into the trunk with enough room to put in our suitcase. Still, I am looking around the house and making sure I can fit all the things I need and still leave room for Hayley Contagious and the Reverend Al. So far I need to get in the following:

The Roller Derby Quilt sign and a bag of fabric. The sign has to go in last, as I don't want it to get ruined. Still, its presence makes sense. The bag of fabric is likely an opportunity for Dread to get more squares at the convention, or she intends to build a nest in the corner of our hotel room rather than making the mistake of getting into the wrong bed at the hotel. While the former is more likely, the latter is practical in a way I enjoy.

Coffee? I don't know. I would like to bring my own machine and cups, mainly because I hate risking any coffee provided to me at the venue. An essential element to a derby weekend, a bad cup of coffee is the equivalent of swimming in slurry. Now that you've looked that up, I'm sorry.

I was going to pack my big boots and have a change of shoes for each day, but I decided to pack lighter for the sake of my travel companions. I considered the Reverend Al Route, where you judge each piece of your couture thoughtfully. If it can completely cover 80% of your body, then you shouldn't wear it. I tried putting something together, but it doesn't seem right...

Maybe lose the vest?

Deciding that I should just wear stuff that I usually do, and screw the haters (Mom!), I have packed a few cool things and decided to let my personality speak for me. Or my mouth. Eh, whatever.

I hope to see many of you there. And for those of you who can't make it, tune into tomorrow at ten in the morning where Dumptruck and I will be be calling the first bout of the day.

Good Times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coming to you live from the Provincetown Hive: An update for the regulars

While sitting in the Wired Puppy in Provincetown, I have been witness to how the rain and chilly temperature has turned one heterosexual father into a social terror that demands his drink for free over some petty detail. The exchange with the owner wasn't very pleasant, but as he and his family are now leaving, I am relieved and proud that I didn't shoot my mouth off and jump to the defense of the owner, as it would have prevented me from enjoying my coffee and figuring out how I wanted to attack this post about Dread's roller derby quilt, which was a bigger success than either of us could have expected.

Dreadnought's art reception was even more well-attended than our wedding. Many members of New England's roller derby leagues with whom Dread's had the most contact were there. Boston, NHRD, CMRD, and Pioneer Valley were in attendance, as were several referees, announcers, and derby widows. Like our wedding, folks showed up in exciting attire, for the ladies and gentlemen came in their uniforms or derby t-shirts. A few were even on skates. Unlike our wedding, we were down a baseball-wielding Caesar.
About to lay down empirical law
Though my grandfather was not there, my mother's mother was, which ruled.

The installation was gigantic. There were a total of three artists in the space, but Dread's work took up two walls. It was hard, however to comprehend the scale of the display when seventy-five to eighty people have come to see it. There were more people in the room, but I am biased and care mainly for the folks I see every weekend. In truth, the derby crowd were respectful of the other artist, reviewing their pieces with the same reverence anyone would have at an art show, but there were moments that were decidely derby. It's rare, for example, for an artist to get a crowd to chant for them:

Dread Smash!

The assembled crew were a blessing. It felt great to be there and see Dread so happy. I was congratulated a lot, which was odd, as I hadn't really done anything except drive her there. It was a great moment in time.

Check out the sweet panorama action.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winding down...the season, that is

The Season is winding down.  Last year, I wrote about how it feels at the end of the season. But that was just volunteer coordination and being a mascot. This year, I took on even more. 

It's a simple truth that running bout production, volunteers and announcing is a full plate. The kind that, on rougher nights, allowed me to skip the food served to skaters and volunteers and head straight to the after party where I attempted to use DJ Barera's sick beats to burn away the stress and hurt of the evening, only to wake up the next morning tired and surrounded by the aftermath of me letting off steam.

In some respects, I envy the widows who just buy tickets and sit up in the stands. They're doing something similar to what those of us working the bouts do; supporting their partners and loved ones through their attendance. I can't let stuff alone, though. While I could be content to watch Dread from the comfort of a chair and shout commentary on everything from the officiating, to the questionable haircuts of the dudes I'm sitting next to, I know that I'd pick up on what needed to be fixed and likely complain. So, rather than wait for the inevitable challenge of "I'd like to see you do better," I jumped in and did what I could to make things work.

Besides, I can watch Dread whenever I want.

Hot damn, did things get challenging in the beginning of my term. Without yanking the curtain back too far, tough decisions were made (some that really hurt), new policies and steps were added, and we dealt with all sorts of weird crap. Bout Production is now organized, almost automatic, leaving me to field questions and concerns that matter to people, like what color the pads in front of the announcer table should be, and who will tell the fans up top that the paper blocking off the restricted area is not a hammock to drape oneself across. Easy stuff.

The season's seen some great changes and I'm happy with what I've accomplished. Though we still have two doubleheaders, NHRD, and Regionals to go, I'm confident I'll get through it well enough to appreciate my slow days and focus on my interests outside of roller derby.

 It's your year, Goblin!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The fruits of labor of from my couch cushion neighbor, Dread continues to rock

Almost a week has gone by since this happened:
Can't see what's going on? Then read below and know you missed out on a gripping, emotional moment where the video sets the tone and you are only getting a fraction of the experience.

The doubleheader at Shriners contained some of the greatest plays we have seen from our home team and Massacre skater skaters this season.  In front of nearly a thousand fans, four teams gave it their all in the mercifully air-conditioned auditorium. While the Cosmonaughties won the bout, the Nutcrackers were able to staunch the bleeding and keep pace with them. However, the person who kept pace the most was the missus. That's right, Dreadnought, who was able to race after players and suck them back into the pack like the angry tentacle of a pink-hued, primordial kraken. My wife, whose ass and shoulders are already a forced to be reckoned with at home and on the track proved that she's a LOT faster than any of us imagined. Including herself.

It's been a long road for Dread on the track. Her first season with the league, she didn't even skate. Injuries sidelined her and slowed her progress while members of her fresh meat class went on to soar among the veterans that had inspired all of them to join. It was tough as sin for her, but she did not give up. She trained harder, listened to feedback, and worked until even I was fatigued. You cannot stop Dreadnought when she's decided to do something, as I have found out in countless, frustrating non-derby moments. Here, that stubborn will is an asset.

Over the past year, after the Nuts' Championship win, it's only gotten more impressive. Dread's gotten leaner, meaner and speedier. Saturday's MVP win (bet you wish you watched the video) was proof that effort and perseverance brings victories that are better savored than success right out of the gate.

It's not just her skating. The roller derby quilt is nearly finished and she's working on getting a book published about it. A lesser, pettier writer would be jealously guarding his medium from his wife's incursion, but she let me invade the world of the flat track. I'm also not a jealous dude. See how I was able to give myself thumbs up in an article about her? That's awesome. Thankfully, she's not writing an autobiography, as someone's already beaten her to it:

Yeah, you better be Dreading me.

To think, were it not for that A&E series, the desire to hit ladies with her butt would never have been realized. Now if only we could find something on television as challenging for this little lady:

  She knows the remotes are important, and that they bring horses into the house through that stupid box.