December 2006

So, I started my new job a week ago Monday. My first day I had to be in at 8am. I did not like this. I now work 9-6 rather than 8-5, and this is much, much better.

I haven’t really tested the waters yet on the whole web-browsing thing, so I’m browsing almost exclusively via lynx these days. You have no idea how fast the web is until you go text-only. Yeah, so I miss the pretty pictures. I can look up the pretty pictures when I get home if I want to. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying having the interwebs transformed for me like this. I remember when lynx was practically all we had, when Mosaic was out and lynx was out and we had more dumb VTY terminals on campus than machines with a GUI and so I knew lynx better than I did Mosaic (and at the time I thought the web was fancy but, you know, gopher had a lot going for it). Now, well, of course now the web is a different beast entirely but, on the other hand, so is lynx. Both are capable of much more. Now I look at it with 1994’s eyes and I think, wow… cool for the first time in a long time.

My new job, I have to say, is pretty rad. I am given to understand that right now it’s unusually slow but they could ramp things up by 50%, maybe 100%, and it would beat eight kinds of hell out of my last job. There, everyone ran around with their head on fire all the time. I didn’t, because I’m just not like that, but it was grating to be fairly sedate and surrounded on all sides by screaming chaos. Here everyone is much more relaxed. The downsides are that I’m working in a building where I worked once before, sitting one row forward of where I used to sit, for a different tiny-but-promising company. The last time I worked in this room the company went down in flames. (LastJob was, in all honesty, the first place I’d ever worked that didn’t completely collapse within a couple of years of hiring me, though they did get bought out.) I have higher hopes for this place than the last company to occupy these storied halls; or, at least, I’ve got my fingers crossed harder this time.

Oh well. We’ll see how it goes. Here it is, the day before Yule, a night I’m going to spend celebrating the rebirth of the god of the hunt and the harvest and I’m sitting here thinking about years past, times when one employer or another felt the weight of the axe on the back of their collective neck, thinking what next year will hold, what ties have I severed and which ones I managed to retain. LastJob seems to be offering me a payout on my pension plan. I have paperwork to do on my new benefits for my new company. I need to roll over my 401(k). Endings are beginnings and other happy hippie shit. One job, like any person or thing, had to die to make way for another, and maybe the new one is fresh and fun and exciting and excited, and maybe it isn’t, but in the fullness of time it, too, will fall. I just hope that, as with so many falls before this one, I manage not to go with it.

In completely unrelated matters, I watched Brick with The Boyf on Monday night and loved it. Watch it, if you haven’t. It’s a noir detective story set in a modern-day suburban high school. Last night I watched the RiffTrax version of The Matrix. Hilarious, just utterly hilarious. It is so good to see MST3K alumni doing their thing and having fun doing it.

OK, so I had no idea that anyone from CRG reads this. Welcome to my tiny corner of the interwebs!

At any rate, I have two or three big corrections to make to my last post and I don’t think just tucking a little update at the bottom really does them justice. And, so without further ado:

  • Tucson Roller Derby just beat Texas, not AZRD. I had them confused, which is entirely my error. They are two totally different teams.
  • CRG is ranked #7, not #8, and AZRD are ranked #4, not #3. Again, this is my error; the old rankings are #8 and #3, respectively. The rankings were apparently updated recently, and I didn’t know this. (The program for Sunday said rankings were about to be updated, but that they would be updated in January.)
  • Lucy Lastkiss’ fiancee was removed from the arena after intervening when AZRD’s Babe Ruthless threw a punch at Lucy Lastkiss. I didn’t see that happen, and so again, that’s my error for suggesting he was not.
  • It is also entirely possible that I am wrong about that having been Babe Ruthless. Punch or no, that is a fabulous name.

I used to bug a skater I know well that people who are reliably going to write about the bouts, afterwards, need some sort of eagle-eye vantage point so they can get a really good look. (Honestly, this wasn’t just me making a play for great seats. Well, OK, not entirely.)

Now? With all good humor, I confess that I prefer that the skaters in general not be able to identify me on sight.

(Kidding! 🙂 )

In all seriousness, many thanks to the skaters, skater SO and ref who took the time to read my write-up and send me very polite corrections and explanations.  (Also, thank you to Eva for the explanation of the acceptable and unacceptable uses of elbows.)

I have to say, when the Tent City Terrors were behind significantly at the end of the first period in their bout against the Carolina Rollergirls on Sunday night, I thought they were just toying with their prey. Carolina was having to sweat hard to keep up the pace against them.

When Carolina was still leading significantly at the end of the second period I was starting to be surprised. I’d figured AZRD would turn on the nitro and just go.

When Carolina squeaked out a 10 point win despite a substantial come-back by AZRD in the third period, I was ready to eat my hat. Nobody expected that. I didn’t expect that and I was watching it happen.

So, let me formally say that I was, as has been demonstrated, uniformly wrong with my prediction for Sunday’s bout. Let me get that right out of the way! I was completely wrong, and utterly glad to be proved so.

Now, that said… wow. What a dirty game. I have to say, I was pretty shocked by some of the stuff I saw pulled out there on the track. Whichever Arizona skater tried to mix it up with Lucy Lastkiss was, depending on whether you saw the precipitating event, either insane or just settling a score. Regardless of all that, however, I have to say it’s not very classy at all when a third party – skater’s boyfriend or no – leaps into the fray. I thought that – getting involved in a personal way with what was going on out on the track or between the skaters when one isn’t a skater one’s self – is what got people thrown out of the rink…

In other measures of how dirty it was: I think Carolina got a lucky break on more than one occasion in terms of fouls not being called against them. That is not to say, however, that Arizona was some poor, mistreated team who got robbed of the match. Carolina’s jammers were rarely able to overcome Arizona’s jammers, who were simply faster and, let’s be frank, meaner than Carolina’s, even faster than Roxy, but there were jams where CRG held the lead jammer position and heck, let’s just go ahead and say it: Arizona fight dirty and when they do they do it dirtier than any Carolina player I saw. In the same jam I saw Deez Nuts (1) grab a Carolina Rollergirl by the arm and fling her out of the track in the middle of a turn and then (2) put her hands on the helmet of another and shove her down and outside in the middle of the same turn on the way through. I don’t know the rules in and out, but that hardly seemed legal.

Let’s be even more frank: Mink Stole – whose masked persona becomes more understandable when you’ve seen how she treats her foes, as surely she makes enemies at every game – is very, very good at keeping an eye on where the refs are and who’s looking and, when the refs are not looking, beating the hell out of anyone she can get her hands on. Or, if other watchers are to be believed, simply turning one foot out to trip anyone who happens to be skating by at high speed.

And finally, let’s talk about Arizona’s penchant for staying on the track after being sent to the penalty box. I won’t say they were outright insubordinate, though. I’m sure it’s very hard from the middle of the pack to hear what’s being said. Over the loudspeakers. In a raised tone of voice. For the fourth time. And hey, if you just happen to get a couple of takeouts in the lap (or two) you squeeze out of your meandering path to the penalty box, well, who’s counting? Right?

This game was very different from what I expected. Arizona are crazy skilled, yes, but Carolina showed that they’re way more skilled than even I was willing to think and I’m a hometown fan. On the other hand, Carolina was way more willing to throw elbows and, let’s be honest, completely superfluous flying tackles while not even inbounds and for no real apparent reason (*cough*LucyLastkissWasKindOfAskingForThatPunch*cough*) than even I had been willing to think and Arizona? Oh my. That southwestern sun does bake a hot temper into those ladies.

There are all sorts of psychological factors to take into account when analyzing this bout and its outcome, of course: Arizona just beat #1 Texas in Austin, something never done before. Maybe they came into this thinking that, in comparison, CRG would be a cakewalk. Maybe they held back a bit too much in the first period while testing their opponents’ mettle. Maybe some CRG member read my last derby post and felt there was something to prove (if so, my response: point well and enthusiastically taken!).

On the other hand, maybe it’s been a long time since the last national meet and those rankings – which put Arizona at #3 and Carolina at #8, and which are about to be updated in early 2007 – are more overdue for that update than anyone realized… who knows?

All I can say is that I am deeply grateful that the next bout is a home game to benefit charity. There are a lot of skaters I’ve missed seeing on the track (where were Leadfoot and Violet Femme, anyway, and where’s Busty O’Lipp, CRG’s natural answer to Mink Stole, been all this time?) and I hope I finally get to see them this time – and I hope Carolina can play a nice, relaxing bout without having to make those EMT’s at track-side bust ass back and forth from Turn 2 to Turn 3 and back again (and again, and again) like they did on Sunday. Tsk.

But you know what? It was a hell of a fun bout to watch. It was probably the most fun interleague game to watch since they hosted (and upset) Minnesota (who just walloped Ohio 142-55 in November) at the Skate Ranch a year (or so) ago. It might have been the most nail-biting, seat-leaving match I’ve ever seen. It was amazing. It was dirty, but it was amazing. The tapes of that bout are going to be watched over and over again by both teams. If you weren’t there, you’d probably do well to try to buddy up to a roller girl and get your hands on the video. Other teams and other leagues should be asking for copies of those tapes to study. I mean… wow. That was all anyone could say outside, afterward: “Wow.” It was a damned fine game to watch, regardless of all else.

(Please see this follow-up for corrections to this post.)

Also, The Boyf and I got caught up on Heroes last night.  I am not about to say anything at all substantive about the plot, so no worries about spoilers.  I would simply like to note this:

  • Mohindir is the hottest guy ever.
  • Peter is a very close second.
  • DL is a very close third.

Now back to not posting about Heroes because it is making my brain explode with the goodness.

Just a reminder to folks who might want to go:  the Carolina Rollergirls will face the Arizona Roller Derby on Sunday 10 December at Dorton Arena.  Tickets can, as always, be purchased online.

We went to the most recent game, of course, against the Rhode Island Riveters.  It was another big blow-out by Carolina when facing a travel team.  Rhode Island has some really good players and, I have to say, some remarkably good blocking.  They’re a team that has really strong fundamentals but not a lot in the way of flash.

Carolina, on the other hand, seems to have focused the travel team entirely on, well, flash.  Everyone is really fast and really nimble – it’s quite impressive to watch a Carolina blocker get passed on the outside by a Rhode Island jammer, then see that same Carolina blocker run in her skates on the inside to get ahead of the jammer again – but the biggest player on the travel team, as far as I could tell, is Teflon Donna.  Now, Donna and Violet Femme are constantly competing to be my favorite travel team skater (Leadfoot being another favorite and one whom I wish they’d put in the jammer position again), and they both can really bring it on offense and defense, and they were fairly easily able to outmaneuver the Rhode Island team in any given jam.

Word on the street, however, is that Arizona – ranked #3 nationally, whereas Carolina is #8 and Rhode Island is #11 – are all fast and nimble and big.  I hate to say it, but I am not going to be terribly surprised if Carolina gets walked all over on Sunday.  Nimble defenders do a great job of jumping around the track in really impressive ways but I’m not sure how much that will help if Arizona keeps them flat on their asses the whole time and everything I’ve read and the people I’ve talked to who keep an eye on derby all seem to agree that this is Arizona’s basic strategy:  a jammer or a blocker or a pivot who is sitting down is an easy point.  Period.  That’s logic it’s hard to argue against.

Suffice to say, it’s going to be a really interesting game to watch:  is Carolina’s defense sufficiently agile to gum up the works of Arizona’s offense?  And is Carolina’s offense fast enough to get past Arizona’s speedy and muscle-bound defense?

For that matter, will Carolina manage not to foul themselves right into the penalty box for most of the 2nd and 3rd periods?  Seriously, let me address the athletes directly for a moment:  I understand the desire to push yourselves and I understand that it’s a physical game, but show a little care on the track, please, just this once?  The last two bouts have been hella fun to watch but far too often Carolina has shorted themselves a player because someone got a little happy with the elbows.  Don’t make that mistake this time.  Do you really want to short yourselves a player for half the bout with sloppy fouls and then lose by a close margin?

And finally, my favorite non-derby moment of the last bout:  sitting with my arm around my boyfriend while Katastrophes explains the game in great detail to the guys behind us.  “You’re like John Madden!” one of them said.  Hell yes.  Derby remains the most honest cross-section of the Triangle you’re ever going to find at an arena sport and everyone is there to just have as good a time as possible.

Also, the “Ask Me! girls,” as one volunteer referred to them?  Brilliant.  That was some good, good thinking on the part of the Carolina Rollergirls organization.  As the sport grows – and it is growing by leaps and bounds – there are going to be a lot of attendees who don’t really understand what’s going on.  The “ask me! girls” are a great sign that the Rollergirls remember that new fans are just as important as those of us who were sitting on the floor of the Skate Ranch three years ago.