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.