Saturday, February 26, 2011

Further Adventures in Nottingham

Things I unexpectedly got to do while in the UK:

--Take a train from London to Nottingham. When I was asked to train the Hellfire Harlots, I didn't really think about it. Former London Rollergirl el Visious brought it up, I quickly said yes without thought as to the whats and wheres of Nottingham, or even looking up the Harlots on the web, and away we went. I got to figure out how to get myself from my hotel to the correct train station, buy the right ticket at the right time(failed to do that as well as I could've, actually), and get on a train for a quick hour-and-a-half ride north.

--At one of the stops along the way, I got to see my first closeup view of a nuclear power plant!

I don't know how many nuclear power plants are still operating in the US. I only know of one in California. So to see one CLOSE UP RIGHT OUTSIDE THE TRAIN WINDOW was kinda cool...and a little scary since us 'Mericans are freaked out about nuclear power.

--A cool old train station. The station in Nottingham is small, full of pigeons, and cold. BUT, it was built a long time ago, so it's automatically neato in my book. While I was waiting for el to pick me up( I ended up being an hour early, and unfortunately couldn't get the little laptop computer with me to work to let el know that I was sitting at the station), I sat and watched a constant stream of interesting-looking people wander through. And the pigeons inside? Those little feathered bastards knew how to forage for themselves very efficiently. I'm sure they would've pecked my shoes to bits if I'd gotten in their way of the fallen croissant bits that were their main dietary source.

--I got to be a passenger in a car on the freeway. You wouldn't think this would be exciting, but it was kinda cool. Remember, I'm easily amused.

--I got to stay in a British home. Namely this one:

Tara and Neil were foolis--uh, nice enough to let me stay with them. I don't know if they knew what they were getting into when they agreed to this plan. Funny thing: they had the roller derby art book that I'm in, and apparently were looking through it prior to my visit and found my artwork. Ohhhhhhh! they said in realization of what they were signed up for. And figured out it was too late to fake their deaths or something. MWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA.   They treated me very well, and even made me breakfast! NOM NOM NOM.  I would totally stay at their house again if I found myself in the area!

--Bearing witness to the Castle vs. Stately Home debate. Nottingham is where Robin Hood was from. I didn't realize this when I first agreed to go up there. I know, I know...DERP. So when I was being shuttled about to and fro, el said to Tara and Neil, We have to show Tara Armov Nottingham Castle! to which Neil replied, It's not a castle, it's a Stately Home. el said, It looks like a Castle. Neil replied, It's still a Stately Home. And much discussion ensued as to whether Nottingham Castle is actually a castle or a stately home. And yes, the way Neil said it, Stately Home is capitalized.

So here we have the front of Nottingham Castle. It certainly looks like a castle from this angle:

Buuuuuuuut, what's that behind the facade in this shot? Looks like a Stately Home. Hmmmmmmmm.

Either way, I got my photo taken in front of the Robin Hood statue:

--As an added bonus, I got to see a real honest-to-goodness Tudor house. Yeah, a REAL Tudor house!

Conveniently located right across the street from Nottingham Castle/Stately Home.

This side adventure was great! I got to see things I never would've seen, meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise, and had a damn good breakfast to boot. AND I GOT TO SEE A CASTL--ERRR, STATELY HOME. Or something.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I'm fighting a cold/flu thingy right now.  Everyone I know has been sick the past three weeks, and I've been dodging sick bullets the whole time.

Last night I bought raw garlic and ate ten cloves with some olive oil and bread. My stomach is paying for it this morning and I COMPLETELY reek of garlic, but I don't feel any worse sick-wise. So that's a good thing, I guess?

In between noshing on garlic, swabbing my nose with zinc, and slugging down enough vitamin C-enriched juice to keep the Florida orange industry in the black, I adapted my flier design for LA's March RADness training camp into a shirt:

Hopefully it'll turn out well and the happy campers will be happy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

UK Derby

And now, back to adventures in Europe...

UK derby. How different is it from US derby?

The rules are the same. The floors they seem to generally skate on is a typical wood-covered-with-polyurethane found in many a gym and recreational center that feels thick but not slippery. The terminology? A little different, but probably not any more different than what one finds in the US. The skaters mainly dress the same. The refs are pretty much the same; they're made up of fans and spouses/bf's/others of the skaters.

It's the volume, people.

I mentioned that before, I know. But it's the glaring difference between the US and UK in terms of derby.

Both in London and Nottingham I was by far the loudest skater there. Some would say, Well NO DUH, Armov. But really? I'm kinda surprised. I guess I was influenced by stories of soccer hooliganism and thought that maybe some of the superfan behaviors that would happen during soccer matches would also happen to a much less-violent-but-still-vocal extent. 

When I went up to Nottingham, I got to see a men's derby match. Which of course was fun. But I started my usual pattern of heckling quickly when one of the teams obviously had less going on in the strategy area than the other. I find a lack of strategy BORRRRRRRRING. And I said so. Repeatedly.

What I didn't expect was the reaction. Of course this is the UK, so no one said anything to me as I continued to "coach" from the sidelines(I yelled repeatedly to the losing team: HEY! SEE THAT GUY WITH THE STAR ON HIS HELMET? HIT HIM! ONLY HIM! NO ONE ELSE MATTERS! They didn't take my advice), but I could feel the stares and wonderment at my continued minor-league assholiness. 

One group of visiting skaters started semi-organized cheers. In response to me? Doubt it. But I'd like to think that I had some sort of influence on them. Even if it was bad.

When I scrimmaged with both London and Nottingham, no one in the pack said anything during jams, either. That was WEIRD. I talked. A lot. Saying where the jammers were, telling my pack to speed up, slow down, inside, outside, etc. What method of communication do these skaters use if they don't talk?! I don't mean to be an asshole with that question, I'm honestly puzzled, because I didn't see anyone use hand signals or anything.

MAYBE THEY'RE ALL PSYCHIC. Which will make the upcoming Derby World Cup very interesting for the US team!

Another random observation: I noticed that the skaters didn't call each other by their skate names as consistently as US skaters do.  I knew more government names than skate names in Nottingham!

Speaking of names, I enjoyed the way my derby name was pronounced. Here in the US, "Tara" is pronounced "TAIR-uh". Hence the pun of my skate name. But in the UK it was pronounced "TAR-uh". Which loses something in the translation, though I have to admit hearing anything said in a non-US accent is pretty damned cool for me.

All of these photos were taken of Nottingham skaters the night before I trained them for three hours. They took me out to a pub that had THE BEST GODDAM BURGERS I've had in a long time. And then they bought me cider and I drew on them. I wonder if they would've been so nice if I had done the training and yelling first?!

Uhm, they would have.

Friday, February 18, 2011


My team, Fight Crew, will be flying to Phoenix, AZ tonight to skate against the Arizona Derby Dames' all-star team tomorrow.

Who's excited about this?


And here's an interesting photoshopped image of me eating AZDD for breakfast:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Afternoon with Vic and Al

I must get back to London before the free museums aren't free anymore.

With all the walking I did, I passed very few museums. It's not necessarily for a lack of trying, it's just that I felt so pressured to see EVERYTHING that I didn't want to stop to look at even older stuff than the old stuff that I was already seeing just on the streets.

However, one afternoon I decided to check out Victoria Station. For some reason I thought it would've retained a very Victorian appearance, and I wanted to see that.

It didn't.

However, since I was in the area, I decided to get lost. And so I did. Very well.

More observations:

  • The big chain stores that are all over the place were Boots, Starbucks, Costas, Vodafone, the aforementioned Pret a Manger, Clarks, Marks and Spencer, H&M, and Tesco.

  • Everyone in Londontown is dressed better than the average Amurrikan dipshit. I think I commented on this before, but it's so striking to me that I'm gonna comment on it again. Interestingly, I didn't see a single pair of impractical stiletto heels on any woman during the day; if she wore heels, they were no more than an inch-and-a-half high and were reasonable to walk in. If you like that type of thing. Yet were still stylish and not athletic shoes.

  • I didn't hear what used to be called a Cockney accent. It's mutated over the years,but there's still a class distinction in slang and general speech patterns.  Even I with my untrained ear could tell the difference between someone who probably grew up all fancy and someone who didn't.

  • The British fucking LOVE "take away" food. Us dipshit Amurrikans know it as "to go". But the British has EVERYTHING as Take Away. Especially sandwiches. Goddam, they love sandwiches. With flavorless mayo on them. 

  • They don't have Proactiv available there, or else everyone loves being au natural. I saw more faces with acne than in junior high. Which you have to realize in the early 80's was chock-full of craters.

  • The bus stops were a lifesaver. Every other one would have a map of its location and what was within a five minute walk of that particular stop. It kept me from digging out my Very Obvious Tourist Maps out too often.

  • Free museums fucking ROCK.

I don't necessarily care for religious art. Maybe it's tied into my feelings about organized religion. The things that caught my interest the most at the Victoria and Albert museum were not the religious artifacts, but the everyday things...

Such as the mosaic floor:

OK, this looked cool. Beheadings are awesome.

They had an impressive display of clothing from the 17th and 18th centuries. Every day stuff. I LOVE THAT TYPE OF THING. Forget epic battles and Important People...I love hearing about the day-to-day lives of people. What did they wear? How often did they bathe? If they were near- or farsighted, what did they do? How did they fight colds? Did they have cancer back then? What did they call it if they did?

Here's some cool ironwork:

I also strolled through Harrod's department store.

Big fucking whoop.

The best part was where one could see the older architecture and moldings. I could easily detect some Art Deco going on in there. It was beautiful. The modern stuff was BORRRRRRRRINGGGGGGG.

I love how the Tube stations have their escalators marked so that if you want to just stand on them as they go, you stand to the right. If you want to climb/descend the escalator, the left side is open to the hurried folk. HOW I WISH WE HAD THAT HERE. But noooooooooooo, that would infringe on some self-centered fuckwad's definition of "freedom". Efficacy shouldn't be sacrificed for "freedom" in these minor cases.

During this first part of my stay in London, I didn't buy anything except food. No souvenirs. I was traumatized by the currency exchange rate. Not like it mattered for the chain stores; all the H&M's have the same crap in them, so I'm not missing anything by waiting to get back to the States to buy from there. Luckily(?) I didn't see anything that I had to have during this portion of my trip.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It was bound to happen sooner or later.

With the ridiculous growth of derby, there has been a fair share of leagues swiping artwork from other leagues and various artists for their own purposes regarding league logos and such. I've seen quite a few examples of this, and it's especially prevalent in non-US leagues grabbing stuff from US leagues and trying to make it their own.

For the most part, my art has been left alone.

Until now.

Meet the Pearl River Roller Derby league in Louisiana:

What a cute girl! Gosh, where did they get that from?

Oh, right:

That Sure Grip girl I did several years ago!

To be honest, I'm not really angry about this, as Sure Grip owns this particular girl and they hired me to do the artwork. I've seen her on stickers, band aid packaging, and even on wheels! I should've negotiated a better rate for myself, but whatever.

But really, it's DUMB to think that one can take a drawing that's KNOWN and incorporate it rather blatantly into one's own league logo. They could've come to me directly and given me money to make them a logo. And it would've been better than what they currently have. Ah well.

I wonder if Sure Grip knows about this?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Second Day...

First off, I just got called back to do some retake stuff on Bob's Burgers, so I'm going through my travel photos wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy slower than anticipated. Second of all, I like money, so the job will continue to take precedence!

Back to our adventure...

I decided that I would accompany my sister to work the morning of our second day in London. Which turned out to be a good idea since it gave me a starting point to learn the intricacies of the London Underground.

If you're staying in London for more than 24 hours, get a damn Oyster card. Also, be prepared to get disoriented direction-wise every time you come out of a different Tube station. My sister and I had no problems getting to the closest station, getting tickets, and getting on the right train. We exited the correct station at our destination, walked out onto the street and promptly got lost. This is what happens when one obeys the "Way Out" signs very, very literally. We had to stop at a Starbucks so that I could look at a map while my sister asked a cop for directions. After that, we were golden.

Oh, I love London's directness in some matters. In the US, we have "restrooms". In the UK and Europe they don't fuck around, they have toilets. Wherever you go, you can find a toilet. I, having a bladder the size of George W. Bush's brain, appreciated that. Another piece of handiness were the "Look Left/Look Right" signs painted onto the streets, so that dumbass tourists wouldn't get smooshed by speeding cars on the London streets. Those signs saved my butt several times throughout my visit.

When we got to my sister's work, I took a breather before going on my own way. One of my sister's colleagues suggested I take the Tube to Oxford Circus, then walk down Regent St. to Piccadilly Circus. Sounded like as good a plan as any to me, so off I went.

I could walk for days in London. I apparently really like looking at old stuff. I took the sage advice of one of LADD's newer skaters who lived in London for awhile and picked up a London A-Z street atlas while I was at Piccadilly. Then I went a-wanderin'.

Hey, I found Trafalgar Square!

Oooh, St. James Park.

The Horse Guard. Those guys stood out in the damn cold for what seemed like forever before anything happened. Then they did some ceremonial stuff and literally trotted off to Buckingham Palace.

A statue in the courtyard of the Horse Guard house/stable/whatever you call it.

I wandered through St. James Park, came out the other side and accidentally found Buckingham Palace.

See the guard? Back there, by that little guard house? That dude is BORED OUT OF HIS FUCKING MIND.

The amount of tourists constantly taking photos around the area was maddening...yes, I'm a hypocrite since I myself was obviously snapping away, but still.

So I wandered off and found...Westminster Abbey.

I balked at paying the 16pounds to go into Westminster Abbey. I later regretted my fake frugality, as I forgot that Westminster Abbey is chock full of famous dead people that are interned there. DAMMIT. Next time, London, NEXT TIIIIIIIIME.

I spent most of the day wandering around. My sister and I did more wandering closer to our hotel when she got home from work. Again, the dreaded British pub/Thai food combo threatened to make us extremely cranky...and hungry. We finally found an Italian restaurant with semi-decent pizza and delicious wine. On the way back we went to the local market and picked up some more delicious goodies:

Why yes, I am enjoying my vacation. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

First Day

My sister and I left sunny and warm 80F degree LA weather and landed in cloudy, overcast, and occasionally drizzly 35F degree London weather.

That was just the beginning of a long line of adjusting!

Luckily for me, my sister has been to the UK before, and so as soon as we cleared airport security, we were on our way to Paddington Station via the Heathrow Express. Apparently the Heathrow Express is the easiest and comparitively cheapest way to get to and from central London and the airport. Works for me.

I'm so excited to be using workable public transportation, I take a photo of my luggage on the train:

We wind our way to Paddington, hail a cab, have a hilarious talk with the cab driver about Amsterdam and its coffee, and in what seems an endless round of driving in circles(I've never seen so many one way streets with roundabouts in my life!), we end up at our hotel, which is on the south side of the Thames, not too far from Big Ben and Parliament:

These photos weren't taken at the hotel, but from the riverwalk two blocks away from the hotel. I insisted on walking around as soon as we got in, as we had a few hours until bedtime anyway, and it was best to keep moving instead of giving in to jetlag too early in the evening.

Here's the London Eye, a ridiculous excuse for a ferris wheel. I wouldn't be persuaded on going up in that fear of heights wouldn't let me.

I thought the closet door in our room was funny, because it reminded me of Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls:

Unfortunately Google wouldn't cough up a clear photo of the outfit I'm talking about. This is the closest I was able to find:

Anyway, I forget what we did for food that night...I think we just got snacks and the aforementioned magical JD and ginger cola at a local shop. We quickly came to discover that the local pubs in the immediate area had a propensity for serving Thai food. Thai food?! The last thing I want to eat in a British pub is Thai food. That's even more gross than the Chinese food/donut shops I've seen in the San Fernando Valley!

The rest of the evening was spent figuring out wifi, and reading maps to figure out where my sister had to go to work the next morning, and where I was going to spend my first day exploring.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Just Started

...going through my photos. I didn't take as many photos as I thought I did. Ah well.

Here is a photo of my fave beverage the early part of the trip:

Yes, that's a can of Jack Daniels and ginger cola. It's a product that makes me scream, WHY DON'T WE HAVE THIS IN THE US?!?!?!?!? because it's goddam delicious. And potent.

Have a listen to the podcast I guested in Nottingham. It was a quick and dirty interview: what you hear is pretty much the entire unedited session. I don't sound too stupid, but I tell you what, mornings are not my strong suit!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Back, back in Cali, Cali

I just got back from my ten day excursion to the UK and Amsterdam.

Holy cow, what an experience! I spent most of the time overwhelmed and lost due to constantly cloudy skies. It's amazing how much I depend on the sun for my sense of direction!

Anyway, here are some quick observations before I start posting about my trip for realz:

  • Both London and Amsterdam were full of people who were very nice whenever I had a question that needed answering immediately. Nicer than what I've come to expect in LA. But then again, I don't talk to many strangers in LA.

  • I hardly saw any fat people. Even in LA, the land of plastic surgery and the brutal standards of the entertainment industry has more fat people than I saw in London and Amsterdam. Is that ratio different when one gets out of the metropolitan areas of London and Amsterdam? I'm sure it is, but still, because of all the walking people have to do to get around, they're thinner than people here. Food portions are smaller and more expensive, as well.

  • Speaking of food, I was intrigued with the Pret a Manger chain in London. When in doubt about food choices such as a British pub that contains a Thai menu, grab a sandwich at Pret.

  • Driving looks more frightening there than here. And that's saying something. Also, no SUV's. That was pretty cool!

  • It's apparently a local law that women in London don't wear pants, even in January. Leggings were the hip, happening thing. Not for me, but for everyone else.

  • Amsterdam coffee is really good.

  • UK roller girls are as polite on the track as they are off the track. Which means they're very, very polite. The leagues I visited were very nice, and put up with my yelling very well. I ended up training more than expected, but I still got to hit strangers, which is always fun!

  • I was easily the loudest person in all of Europe while I was there.

  • Searching for a decent salad was akin to searching for the Holy Grail. Well-nigh impossible most of the time.

  • Mexican food in Amsterdam isn't too terrible.

  • Staying at a hotel where Arab fancy people frequent is a surreal experience.

  • Walking constantly for almost ten days is kind of a workout, kind of not. But my feet are killing me. I didn't lose weight thanks to my eating an English breakfast on most days, which I don't do here in the US. English bacon is DELICIOUS, btw.

  • Wearing athletic shoes out and about when one is not actually working out is a sure sign that one is an American.

  •  Not having a cell phone for ten days was a pain at times, but for the most part I adjusted. Not having reliable internet access was a different story!

  • The Jack the Ripper tour was pretty cool, though most of the actual locations have been updated with new high-rises and such, so it's difficult to imagine how it all looked "back in the (gruesome) day".

  • The branch of the Hermitage in Amsterdam needs more stuff. The Van Gogh museum gave me new appreciation for his drawings. Rembrandt's house gave me a HUGE appreciation for the art of etching.

  • Watching news that actually contained news as opposed to merely gossip stories about actors and celebutards was eye-opening. America is really full of spoiled whiny brats. The anti-intellectual bend the US has taken is horrifying in light of how other countries cover the news. 

  • Both London and Amsterdam were way more environmentally conscious about energy usage and recycling than the US. We have a long way to go, baby.

  • I wish I lived in a city with reasonable public transportation. I get that cities such as London, Amsterdam, and New York are compact compared to LA. But DAMN, it'd sure be nice to have an alternative to driving every once in awhile.

  • LAX is the most ghetto airport I've been to. Really, LA? Get your shit together, people are looking at you.

  • The exchange rate between the US and the UK was brutal on my pocketbook. Thank goodness the Euro was much kinder to my budget. 

  • I hope that I can go back, especially to do some derby training. If there's a way to offset the airfare, I'd totally do a derby training tour!