Saturday, February 27, 2010

Derby Widow searches that led people here, and how long they stayed

Web statistics are a great tool for any blogger, writer, or typical attention prostitute ("whore" is vulgar, and has just become a pejorative term for any lady needing some love squeezings. Shame on you, men and women, who use that term that way. Go get some). They let let you know where people who read your blog came from, what people have read the most, and often how long they stay.

Early this morning, at 3:30AM, someone in the South was looking for "pictures derby widows," and I think was disappointed to find my link because they left after two minutes. Well, here's a little sexy .jpeg to keep you coming back, baby!

 Hot.


Today, I am up early to capitalize on a silent morning and edit my latest Bennington College packet before sending it to my uber-genius of a professor, Tom. I'm two-for-two with instructors who have had the brain meats that challenge my writing to the point I wake up paranoid days before, copy my work over into another file and re-type it in from scratch to make sure I do not appear the fool when I send the work in. As my nose started to bleed from the stress, I turned to the internet to tell me what's good. Which led me to my stats page, because like all lonely people on the internet, I want my kicks. Unlike them, I decided to keep both hands on the keys. Unless, of course, I'm cam-prostituting.

 
The written word is dangerous. Wear your gauntlets at all times.

All the other searches have been less ambiguous, some with even my government name being used along with the phrase "derby widow." That's pretty cool. Thank you to everyone, whether I know you or not, for reading.

All right, enough procrastination. I have some reviews to edit, a bout to run, and some games to call. Take it easy!


-Pelvis Costello

Friday, February 26, 2010

Delegation Station

Last night, as the stress of setting up the bout and finishing up my packet had begun to boil over, I was thankful to set it aside for a couple hours to work on the podcast with Three-Day Bender and Señor Macho Solo (download here). I was also able to interview Peter Rottentail of CMRD, who discussed Men's Derby and updated us about Central Mass Roller Derby's new lady teams.

Once the interview was over, the Power Jammers studio was transformed into a special effects workshop as we worked on the new Dragomir mask. The original prosthetic mold was based on the original Planet of the Apes masks. Now that I've passed the torch for the new season, we updated the mask to the one used by Tim Roth in Tim Burton's version of Planet. 


When you first receive the facial prosthetic, it's completely naked. The surface is an almost shiny yellow, giving it the appearance of badly burned skin.


It's got to be painted, so I made sure to get a bunch of the best Mehron makeup and setting spray money can buy for Peter to set up the mask. Here's where being an avid geek comes as an advantage.


Years of making monsters, painting models, and general Halloween antics made the work rather seamless. I was impressed with how fast the dude was getting stuff done. I didn't need to lift a finger, for Peter had this in hand. Was this what I looked like to Dread as I painted my first chimpanzee mask while watching Real Time with Bill Maher?

Hayley, the Cosmonaughties co-captain, came over just in time to see Peter complete a "dry fit" of the mask. While I don't have a picture of her reaction, here's as close to the end result I can show before bout day, which is tomorrow. 


 Take that, people's dreams!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I came here to kick butt and chew bubblegum...and I've lost my shoe...

Two days before the big bout in Boston. We are already breaking records in online ticket sales, which reminds me to tell you to buy tickets fast, because they will sell out.  If you read this, and are in the Boston area, my warning has merit. If you just like to watch me write, don't go away, I'm going to peel back that curtain into the backstage planning of derby.

In an earlier post, "The Screams and Shouts when you get Burnt Out...", I touched upon the work that goes into bout production and how we put in a ton of effort each month to get stuff looking nice. We do it for the fans, for each other, for you. Planning the bout, recruiting staff, setting up a venue and making sure we have enough seats is a full-time job. You know people who throw those big arena festivals? Nevermind doing it once a year...do it once a month, and with an all volunteer army.

 
AMATEURS!


Today is all about setting up half-time fun for the audience, double-checking every to-do list, and working on my grad school packet (yes, I actually non-derby work, but my fiction lately is all derby-related...thanks, ladies). Tonight, I meet with the announcers to discuss the bout runthrough from that perspective. In between the stuff, I've planned, I've fielded phone calls and emails ranging from the five-alarm alerts to the "dude, do you like stuff? Get back to me in ten minutes"emails that are not idle threats. For within ten minutes, I get, "Seriously, dude? Stuff? Y/N."

No. I do not like "stuff."

This year's bout production team are really a pleasure to work with, and I'm lucky to have them. Each of us brings something unique to the table, and I seem to share a brain with one of them, so it's pretty cool that I've not taken a corkscrew to my temple and lobotomized the two of us. 

Once the house lights of Shriners go down and the crowd starts cheering loudly, today will disappear in the fog of euphoria that I get every time I see a game start. The game will be called with the same "Hot Fire" I was breathing on GMDD and NHRD the weekend before. Reverend Al will be there. Lady O will be holding court over the intro and commentary fiefdom. And Pelvis Costello will continue to be your King of Smooth.

Monday, February 22, 2010

GMDD was very nice to me (and NHRD)

The trek up to Essex Junction, Vermont from Arlington, Massachusetts is roughly three-and-a-half hours. My erstwhile companions, Dreadnought and Johnny Deep, had started a game of “cows” once we he hit the Vermont border, raking up one point for every herd or single cow seen on their sides of the ford Taurus. Each of them howled in dismay whenever we passes a graveyard for its appearance heralded a clearing of the tally on whomever’s side of the car the cemetery happened to be on. Our visual branding of cattle was merely a side effect of driving up I-89 to watch the Green Mountain Derby Dames take on New Hampshire Roller Derby’s Skate Free or Die.
 

 
Actually a cow... This bastard cost me the game, as Dread's iPhone confirmed its bovine genetics. Thanks a lot, Emo-Udders.

My job as the announcer for NHRD meant that I’d be separated from the missus and Johnny for much of the bout, as I crept along the side of the track like a stalking baboon with a microphone. We arrived at our hotel in Burlington, Vermont at 2:10 pm, with snow beginning to fall in slow, heavy clusters. Weather can be a deterrent for many roller derby fans, but this is Vermont, where snow is merely a condiment and ice comprises much of their building materials. After check in, we raced over to the Champlain Expo Center, for I believed I had to arrive for check-in at three.

The Green Mountain Derby Dames have a regular spot in the Expo’s event rotation, and the staff of the Expo were a younger, hands-on answer to the generous Shriners that run the Aleppo Auditorium where Boston holds their games. Arriving in the expansive parking lot of the Expo, a massive sports compound any derby league, or cult leader, would kill for, we walked through the loading doors of the rink, into a sea of green and black shirts that could only be GMDD’s support staff. Introducing myself as Pelvis Costello, I was shown the announcer table and informed that my co-commentator, the lovely Candy Coronary, would arrive shortly.

A note about GMDD: they are the living custodians of Xenia, the Ancient Greek laws of hospitality. Like Odysseus, my dog's favorite epic hero, I was treated to kind faces and asked about what I needed before the start of the bout. My offers to help fell on deaf ears, though the bout setup machine GMDD has in place is impressive enough to not need a super-god like myself. Before game time, I was introduced to Candy, a former skater-turned-announcer, whose demeanor, like her derby namesake, threatened my heart with its sugary deliciousness. 
 
NHRD warming up.

Calling this game was a personal highlight in my short announcing career. I tend not to brag about myself. Rather, I have the desire to deify my friends and loved ones. But I was on fire. I explained rules to the crowd while keeping the play-by-play rolling with Candy. There were references to NH and VT's longstanding feuds, the Hobbit, and how derby was were settling our differences.The crowd was awesome and responsive. You want to know more about it, jump over to Power Jammers.

The last jam of the bout tied up the game 69-69, which threw us into a jam off. Basically, we kept going until there was a definitive winner. Make Out Bandit scored ten points to Basher Barbie's 3, ruining my adolescent chuckling on the score, but giving NHRD the win. Floating on the boos and death-threats of die-hard fans, we made our way to the after party where the two teams were able to laugh and make merry together, while we all waited hours to be served food. 

I would speak more about the night spent at the hotel, and how one British guest took exception to the celebratory mood of some NHRD people, but like Lovecraft, I dare not speak of it.

 
"It was just scary, okay? Damn, what do you expect from
a dude who's scared and confessing his deeds on his death bed?! 
The monster was mean and all GRRRR!" - from the unpublished story 
"Look you had to be there, all right?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Holy Crap

DNN added powerjammers.net to their Weekly Rollup! We've only had two podcasts up so far for this season...and only two weeks for the website.

It can only go down from here. HA.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Art imitates life, life imitates art

Prior to Dread's joining roller derby, we had a discussion about art. The missus has the ability of recording the world and then rearranging the images she captures into something beautiful. She had won awards and modest recognition for her digital art in college and the early years of our relationship, but lamented that "there wasn't much [she] had to say." And then came roller derby.

Derby awakened a passion in Dread that is infectious. Beyond the physicality of the game, the strategy involved made her already sharp mind sharper. Which is sometimes a pain in the butt, as I have to get my Loki on if I want to hide something from her, like a surprise party. More importantly, though, derby has given her a new well to draw from when it comes to making cool stuff.

Months ago, Dread came home with an old skate that used to belong to one of her teammates. This beat up, ol' boot had seen a lot of action, weathered hits and blocks from stiff competition, and was able to be put out to pasture instead of thrown into the trash. Dread saw the life story of that skate, and decided to share it.








When she started,  our living room coffee table disappeared under the components she had assembled for about four days. While we have an office with a "work table" for such projects, my desk is also in there. Dread's not wild about bothering me, nor I her, while we're working. This compassionate, mutual understanding often dissolves whenever she notices something funny on television, or receives a phone call that prompts her to ask me questions. But I digress too much in the realm of marital secrets, so I best stay on target with the skate.


 Not Pictured: The office door being shut by a cranky, if loving Pelvis. 
It's hard to write sweet things when you're listening to the missus scream at Project Runway.

The result was a book about roller derby, made from the skate and several bout posters we had accrued over the past two seasons. The skate has been on display at the Cambridge Center for the Arts and will be going to the Southshore Art Center in a few weeks.  Am I bragging? Yeah. I guess I am. Dread's awesome. In addition, she's the mastermind and head sewer of the roller derby quilt.

As for me, meeting the ladies of derby, and their spouses, has inspired a lot of the fiction I've been working on for the past two years. There is something about the marriage of the sport and spectacle that brings out the dynamic parts of people you so rarely get to see. And, I can chalk up all the games and events I go to as "research."

-Pelvis Costello

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Power Jammers (it's not what you think)

As some of you know, I do a half-hour to an hour-and-a-half podcast with Johnny Deep and Señor Macho Solo called "Power Jammers." Before my literary friends worry (or assume based on my behavior dancing at the Bennington student center...or anything else I say), hardcore pornography has nothing to do with the name.  A "power jam" is an actual derby term. I was about to explain it, but here's a Derby News Network explanation, courtesy of our Jeff the Ref and Dump Truck:



Inspired by the derby maneuver from which it received its name, the Power Jammers podcast is all about ranting unopposed about roller derby, pop culture, and the bizarre character flaws of its hosts. 

The first podcast we ever recorded together was in the sweltering interior of my old Chevy Malibu. While the Boston Derby Dames were giving one another awards in a state park, Freddie Buse, Macho, Johnny and I, were recording our thoughts on the past season and what to look forward to at the next bout. It was a pleasant, if humid distraction, as we were widowers without a thing to do for thirty minutes. The ladies were busy and not everything is our business. It's just science.

Using a hand-held recorder, we sat in my car with the windows up to cut down on the ambient noise of volleyball and talking skaters. Before we could get to the meat of any issues, we were interrupted by a state trooper who pointed out the "No Live Parking" sign located in front of my car. He eyed us suspiciously, asking what we were up to. Confident that all of our pants were on, I answered him.

"It's a podcast," I said.

"What the hell is that?" he asked. Our explanation of what a podcast was and why were doing one convinced him we were not up to any shady activity and he left us to our work. Before he turned away, he had a look on his face reserved for a dad who had hoped his sons were in the backyard practicing their baseball swings, only to discover them wearing capes and fighting their friends with foam swords. I miss that officer. I also miss foam swords.

 
Much better.


Over the next year, we started publishing these little sound-bytes about derby, many of them can be found linked on last year's bout previews on Bostonderbydames.com. However, it's only recently that we were able to start getting around to sprucing up the format into something that is palatable to the general masses. Which brings us to powerjammers.net. It's not a perfect site, but we're messing with the format now, and trying to come up with an experience for roller derby fans throughout New England. Boston's our homebase, but we don't feel there's been enough nods to those leagues around us who are giving it their all. 

Our current "studio" is the Dread and Pelvis dining room in lovely Arlington, Massachusetts. The hosts and guests sit together in a literal round-table discussion.

The most recent podcast (split into two parts) brings you news about ECE, interviews with Lois Carmen Dominator  and Hayley Contagious of Boston, a new segment with a Boston ref who knows the rules better than we ever will, and gives bout and event listings for the month of February. Over time, we're going to branch out to cover more derby news for the region. The two parts are about forty minutes each, but it's because we have so many people on and we though you'd like to get their thoughts on upcoming events before those events were history. In the future, we're making these smaller. The podcast can be downloaded by going here

I'm hoping to get people to write articles for the site, as well as shoot video and participate in interviews. Also, anyone who wants to help out with coding the site is welcome to contact me. And anyone who wants to ask questions that will be used on the podcast can email them to questions@powerjammers.net.

Well, that's it for today. I've got some more stuff to write and a bout on Saturday.

Keep it smooth, 

Pelvis Costello

UPDATE: Man, Power Jammers looks good.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Heartbreaker's Ball: NHRD brings the ruckus

It was no surprise that New Hampshire Roller Derby’s (NHRD) Second Annual Heartbreaker’s Ball was going to be an epic party. Held at the Yard in Manchester, the dance party was a throwback to a 1950s sock hop.  The first Heartbreaker’s Ball was well attended, but it did not prepare me for the sheer number of people that had packed into the hall to dance to Rockabilly, Soul, and modern dance music. When Dread and I had to wade through a sea of unfamiliar faces to get to a table of familiar ones, I was impressed, but unsurprised.

New Hampshire Roller Derby has a reputation for their events.  In its infancy, the ladies were able to throw parties and fundraising events that were filled with Animal House-style antics, beer, and a loyal group of friends who were happy to fill the small dive bars of Nashua, New Hampshire. It was in those early days where the enthusiasm for starting the league was so high that one would be surprised to come up to visit them and not find them celebrating their hard work while dancing on a bar or raffling off dates with Tank’d Girl. Before their fun-loving attitude could be perceived as a negative, the ladies organized and produced the first Roller Consolation in 2008. Roller Consolation was NHRD’s cost-effective alternative to the annual RollerCon event in Las Vegas.  The ladies of New Hampshire invited skaters from all over New England to register and play in several challenge bouts (Dragons vs. Unicorns being my favorite). These one-off teams allowed fans and skaters in the region to see that as hard as NHRD partied, they skated even harder.  On the track, the people of NHRD throw themselves into their bouts and, win-or-lose, provide the audience with feats of stellar jamming and solid hitting that make them the apprentice league to watch this year. They attacked their event in the same manner.



Members of other leagues came up to take part. Talking with skaters and widowers from Central Mass and Boston, we agreed that the event was phenomenal. Trying to pin down why wasn’t hard. NHRD doesn’t just make merry with each other, but with everyone else that comes out to support them. It’s my belief that this is the greatest part of NHRD: they bring the ruckus on and off the track for the benefit of anyone who comes up to see them. They are the consummate hosts.



(professional photos courtesy of  Rock Lopez, visit his site at http://ricklopezphotography.zenfolio.com/)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Looking behind the curtain: Fresh Meat Scrimmage 2010

Sunday night, the Boston Derby Dames held their annual teaming scrimmage. The new skaters, or "fresh meat," had gone through a grueling training period filled with losing friends to rounds of cuts (of the tryout variety, few are actually stabbed by knives before being teamed) and the literal body blows that take place on the track.  Now, months of preparation had brought them to the last chapter of their fresh meat life. As a writer and general nosy person compelled to observe the dramatic or intense moments of others, I went with my wife to watch the scrimmage.

Dread and the freshies waiting to take the track
Dread and the Freshies waiting to take the track.


The practice facility the ladies use is in a roller hockey rink just outside the Metro Boston area. The building is both poorly insulated and ventilation is an issue. When I was there last, it was June. The walls and floor were slick with condensation. Returning there in February, I was happy to report the rink was dry, if chilly. The lack of heat brought another blessing, as it was impossible to smell the Mens room from the stands surrounding the rink. While I'm not a fan of hand sanitizer, I brought some with me as I was afraid to use the soap in a bathroom that has stalls and urinal dividers rusting off the walls from "excessive water damage." But I, unlike the ladies assembled there, am not an athlete. Their concerns were not the urine stains on the bathroom tiles, nor were they worried about ice crystals forming in their water bottles. They were here to prove they could hang with the vets and be fully-fledged members of the league.

The fresh meat scrimmage is a lot like a regular game of derby. The newer skaters were assigned to either the Black or White team and both rosters were rounded out with veteran skaters. Having the would-be derby dames play against only each other would have been stressful enough...skating with their skater sisters added a whole new level of pressure. But rolling with the "big girls" allows home team skaters to see how the fresh meat play in a way that we can't from the sidelines. In game psychology, pack cohesion, who can take a check from Bully Mia (I can, but only off skates!), and the ability to work with your teammates are all things that had to be taken into account.

Flanked by veteran Derby Widowers "The Prince of Pain" and "Tim," I watched the sixty minute scrimmage. Behind us, a few of the potential widows (we cannot hold tryouts for them...yet) cheered their ladies on while they tried to outpace, outhit, and out-maneuver their way past each other and make a lasting impression in the minds of our home team crew.


The Fresh Meat Scrimmage as they're cheered on.


Some of the plays in that scrimmage were truly amazing. Watching these ladies push themselves to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion made me reflect on the times I had seen Dread and her group of freshies do the exact same thing a few years ago. What added to my nostalgia was listening to Salome Splatter's boyfriend in the stands cheering every play she made. Looking at him, I wondered what kind of widow will he be, and if he had an aversion to wearing a latex chimp mask.

After the scrimmage was over, the team captains were sequestered in an undisclosed location to conduct the draft. By the end of the night, some girls would find themselves teamed, others would be invited to try out again next year. Given my wife's position with the league, she had left with the captains to discuss the draft picks, while I got to go home and hang out with our pug...wondering why it is that the Who didn't attempt to show any nipples to the viewing audience. 

By the end of the night, the new teams had been finalized. My wife arrived home shortly before eleven.  Her shoulders slouched from the exhausting work of playing against and saying goodbye to some of the fresh meat girls. We sat up for a while, talked about the people she would miss, and tried to focus on the positive side of the draft.  Holding Dread in the silence of our bed was another moment where I realized the price of seeing behind the scenes of this sport. Being a derby widow means you get to see the great moments on-and-off the track that so few appreciate, but it also means that you're privy to the parts of your partner's life that are filled with considerably less "yay." 

The good news is that the first practice with the newly-teamed skaters was tonight. Playing with these women will pull the hurt out bit-by-bit, and the season will bring the missus new memories and opportunities to shine in this sport. And I will get to see all that, too.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Things to look for by the end of the month

Some of you may or may not know this already, but there's a podcast I've been a part of for the Boston Derby Dames. It's starting to take shape into something I can listen to without being hyper-critical about how my voice sounds, our bizarre rants, and "GarageBand" quality of the sound. We're not on the level of DNN...yet.

Anyway, the first "Powerjammers" podcast is up and you can download part one here and part two here (Both are rated "Mature" because the boys had potty mouths...that may change so you can listen at work). Part one's a recap of the Massacre's trip to Nationals and a heart-felt goodbye to some of our retiring skaters. Part two's a preview of the upcoming Boston game on February 27th. Also covered is merch maven Johnny Deep's hatred of the Muppets, YouTube tribute videos to dead cats, and monkey masks.

While this first podcast is raw, the new format's going to cover upcoming bouts, news, and other derby minutiae from around NEW ENGLAND.  In addition to registering a site to house our podcast, we think it's a great idea to branch the site out into other media, providing different types of coverage for all of the leagues that have been so welcoming to the crew I run with on a weekly basis. If you're interested in contributing, or have ideas on what or whom we should cover, email me at spacechimp drago AT gmail dot com.

This blog, however, is more universal...because Pelvis Costello belongs to all people.

Tonight, I'm attending Boston's scrimmage and I'm hoping to interview some of the home team captains about the upcoming 2010 draft.

Man, I love this sport.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feedjit.com

Whoa. I didn't realize how many people visit this blog. Hey! I was looking at the feedjit.com gadget on the side of this thing and wondered why there were so many hits from Arlington, MA, as I blocked my browser. Apparently, there are more derby enthusiasts around. Or, my in-laws just keep coming back to the page to see if I am talking about them. Well, now I have so you can check back tomorrow, knowing that I promise to only write that I love you.

Beverly Hills, CA and Kansas are my biggest WTF (in an awesome way) hits. Some of them were googled! So, for those of you looking for Black Widows or Derby players with "widow" in their names, I'm sorry to have confused you, but hope you keep coming back.

Well, Pelvis is headed up to New Hampshire today to wish his grandpa a happy 81st. Man, my grandparents and parents started their families young.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Can't wait until February 27th? Then go to this stuff.

While it's twenty-two days before Boston’s season opener, it doesn't mean that the rest of New England is waiting to get the “party started.” 

On February 12th , join me at  NHRD's Annual Heart Breaker's Ball!
This is the premiere event of New Hampshire's 2010 season. Doors open at Eight PM at the Yard in Manchester, NH. This year's theme -- it's a 50s and 60s style sock hop. 

What's the price? $5 with a costume / $7 without. Seriously, that's a steal. I was voted prom king last year, and I think there might be another King/Queen contest this time around. Help me win, or maybe you can become one-half of my dance-hall monarchy. I refuse to lose, so you'll likely be my opposite number. Wait, Tank'd Girl should win, too. Expect a bloody fight from the incumbent rulers of the floor (and your hearts)!



Head to nhrollerderby.com for more details. 


While I have nothing but love for the party atmosphere NHRD provides, this celebration is merely sounding the horn of war. Unwilling to wait for an opponent to come to them, the ladies of NHRD are headed up to Vermont to take on the Green Mountain Derby Dames

The states of New Hampshire and Vermont have a long-standing history of distrust and differences of opinion. Check them out on any map. They’re two triangles wedged together in an uncomfortable rectangle of angst and political arguments. My tea party relatives often say, “Vermont's to the Left of New Hampshire," before picketing the rights of Hawaiians to have birth certificates or collecting unemployment checks with no sense of irony. Conversely, Vermont is like the person in the breakup who shows up with their hot new girlfriend to the same restaurant New Hampshire's at, and pretends to be surprised when New Hampshire storms out of the place. What a jerk you are, Vermont. What can mend the fences between these two turbulent triangles of land? Roller Derby!

The bout is on February 20th, at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, Vermont. Buy your tickets here.

Come on out, as I will be calling play-by-play and I will need you to buy me beers so I do not go hoarse while explaining the game in the mighty Pelvis manner. I will also accept water, but it's not as fun.


Until next time, I remain your faithful hype man and shill for derby.

-Pelvis Costello