Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Legit" and "mainstream" derby

A Facebook email chain included me(surprisingly) amongst a group of various skaters from various leagues that asked about what things that WFTDA could do in the next three months to "legitimize" modern DIY derby. Of course, I'm not in a WFTDA league, but I do have a big mouth. I wrote a long-winded and rambling reply, and didn't really hear a lot of feedback from it. I don't know whether I covered the bases or everyone just thought I was a jerkfaced asshat, but I thought I'd repost what I wrote just for shits and giggles. Or feedback. Whatever you have time for.

First off, I hate the terms "legit" and "mainstream" in terms of the current modern DIY derby, whether it's flat or banked track. To me, those terms signify complete and utter boredom, which is what I think of when sports in general are brought up to me. Derby isn't a mainstream sport; why there are people pushing to make it "mainstream" is really beyond me. I won't watch derby if it's included in the Olympics. I just don't care. I like where derby is at right now. A little whimsy in sports shouldn't be frowned upon. Don't be swayed by what's already out there. If you were, you wouldn't be involved in derby to begin with. 

I would like to see modern derby try to grow its fanbase in a close manifestation of what we're experiencing right now. Fun names and team themes with serious athletic abilities, at least with what's seen in the top leagues in the country.

Anyway, here's some thoughts:

  • Get rid of minor penalties. If a skater sits in the penalty box, it needs to be obvious to everyone watching the game why she's there. Accumulations are BORRRRRRINGGGGG.

  • Another rule change, especially for WFTDA: GET RID OF NOT-STARTING DERBY. The pack whistle blows, the pack MUST MOVE. The rule needs to change about waiting for the last pack person to cross the pivot line. In WORD rules, the jammer whistle is blown 3 seconds after the pack whistle. In MADE rules, there's only one whistle for both pack and jammers. Either way, it's encouraging movement, which is what fans want to see. Not the standing-around-like-idiots play that bores the pants off of everyone except the skaters in that particular jam. Strategy doesn't mean diddly if people won't sit and watch non-movement when skating is supposed to be involved.

  • Have a handbook or some other source/guide for game/bout production. This includes how to run the door, lighting, announcers, timetables, etc. Sure, not all leagues can be all fancy in every aspect of game production, but if they had a guide to work off of, they can do what they can with current resources as well as set goals for future games to keep the fans interested AND informed while using what's available and affordable to leagues.

  • Continue to encourage any and all skaters in any and all leagues to go to bootcamps that are hosted by top skaters/leagues/whatnot. The idea is to bring more competitive gameplay to more leagues. If you look at rankings, whether they're WFTDA, DNN, WORD, etc, you see that there's a dropoff in...talent? ability? I don't know what the word is, but there's a small group of teams at the very top, and the dropoff to what the next group of teams' abilities is severe. So, say in a tournament situation, if you have #1 seed vs. #7 seed, it's going to be a blowout. Which for new fans is boring to watch. But if we're able to spread the training around far and wide so that more leagues get to a level where they're more competitive in a shorter space of time, that's just good for everyone.

  • Interleague. This goes back to building up the talent that's already out there. Interleague is a great way to do that. But not just the all-star teams. I love TXRG's example of using their home teams as "B" teams for interleague play. It not only encourages city-to-city competition that modern sports thrive on, but it introduces a higher level of gameplay to more skaters in a particular league. And then they'll strive more to achieve higher excellence. This also helps address the problem that many leagues have of their intraleague drawing more fans than interleague. If the home teams are used in more interleague play, then that gets the fans used to more interleague matchups, which generally makes the skaters and the fans happy.

  • Skater names. This is a touchy subject. I myself love my skate name. But there are some names out there that aren't...family friendly. Now, as non-mainstream as this sport is, it's also a sport that's gaining popularity in Jr. leagues across the country. It behooves leagues to not have skate names such as Slitty McCuntergash if they have a Jr. league going on. Or if they have all-ages games. Or both. To build a following that will last beyond any hipster fad, you gotta suck the kids in. A little discretion can go a long way to having a skater feel like she's expressing herself the way she wants to while having the league build a following that's going to think of the future of the sport by having kids around to get them hooked.

  • Recreational leagues. Not everyone coming into a league is going to be all-star material. Some won't even be home team material. But dammit, they love to skate. Maybe they volunteer for your league, and having them around is a good idea for whatever reason. Give them a place to go skate. Same for retired skaters who maybe can't make the training schedule of a team for either physical or scheduling reasons...give them a place to come to so that they can give advice to the up-and-coming skaters. Or give them a reason to justify the cost of their brand-new Antik skates. Whatever. Rec leagues are another avenue of spreading the derby love while being low-cost and casual.

That's just off the top of my pointy little head. I'm sure people have brilliant ideas on how to grow the sport. The question is, will that growth be "legit" and "mainstream", or just...growth?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Side Things Make Life Fun

There's a new tradition amongst the LA Derby Dolls' referee crew. They do a Summer Mix contest of their fave music and have an outside, supposedly impartial judge overseeing the listening and judging part. A few months ago the DH and I were asked to be this year's judges. Which is awesome.

If I had remembered that I was asked. Oh, and I never told the DH that he was getting sucked into this, either. Whoops.

So last week rolls around and there's a flurry of facebook updates about the Enforcers getting their mixes done, how fucking brilliant the mixes are, and that they didn't pander too much to my musical tastes. The DH sees these updates and is baffled by his involvement. As usual.

The actual delivery of the cd's to me is a story in and of itself. Last Thursday I get an email from Gwen Sweetfanni asking if I'll be at the track that night to pick up the cd's, and if not, could she drop them by my house after practice? I reply back telling her that I won't be at practice and of course she could deliver them to my house and drop them through the mail slot. Or I could pick them up this Sunday, since I'll be at the track. She says she'll leave them at the track.

A semi-important note: because I'm on the computer ALL DAY for work, I rarely, if ever, turn on the computer when I get home from work. And so I missed Gwen's email from later in the evening saying that she's going to stop by the house and drop off the cd's when she's done with practice after all because she's giving a ride home to fellow Westside resident and LADD Head of Events Bong Jovi.

This is where the hilarity comes in.

Another semi-important note: the DH is usually one who doesn't have much in facial reactions. Or reactions in general. Whatever is going on in his mind keeps him occupied to the point where outside stimuli is only able to earn a momentary pause in his thinking before he goes right back to whatever he was saying before said outside stimuli pierced his thought patterns. Long story short, he's a little deadpan in his reactions. This will help with visualizing the following.

In the morning I find this on my computer keyboard:

The DH shuffles in and in about four sentences mumbles that the manila envelope was dropped off last night by Gwen. She had tried to shove the manila envelope through the mail slot and he had interrupted her.

I'm delighted with the unexpected-until-I-read-my-email-at-work delivery. I unpack the envelope and see the seventeen discs waiting for me to be all judgey on them:

I think to myself that there are more cd's than I expected. I wonder how Gwen got that envelope through the mail slot?

I take some of the cd's to work and settle in for a long morning of almost getting stuff done when Bong Jovi messages me on gchat(PS: I'm on gchat all day. ALL GODDAM DAY. It's the only thing that keeps me from going spider monkey on my coworkers) about the Summer Mix delivery. Here it is:

JOVI:  loudest
me: I'm so bummed I slept through it.
Poor Busta had NO idea what the fuck was going on. HILARIOUS.
JOVI: oh man
  dude, it was hilarious
i mean, first, gwen and i running errands together like a crime fighting team is already funny
  but we get to your place
 me: oh gawd!
JOVI: and she's like, i'm gonna run up and put it in the mail slot
 and as she walked away i thought, that envelope is probably to big for the mail slot
and then she disappears in the darkness of your porch
 me: I'm laughing out loud already, I'll have you know.
JOVI: and then it's nothing but sounds
  the KREEEEEEEEEK of the screen
  the opening of the slot
  then silence
then the SCREEEE of the mail slot again
 me: <---literally giggling like goon reading about this.
JOVI: then silence
 i'm in the car with the door opening laughing my ass off
  because like, your porch is an echo chamber or something
 me: OH MAN.
  where did you guys park? Did you pull into our driveway?
JOVI: we parked on the street behind your car
JOVI: and then the porch light comes on
  which scares gwen
  and immediatly i think
  Holy shit, we're at the wrong house
 me: :::dying;::
 JOVI: she's trying to cram all these random cds into a strangers mail slot
the porch light comes on and i hear her this:

Busta: Who's there?

Gwen: Gwen? Cammie?

Busta: Gwen who?

Gwen (panic): Gwen Sweetfanni??? of the LA Derby Dolls??? Imjusttryingtodropoffthecdsfortheenforcermixtapecontestsorry. sooooo sorry...

JOVI: and then she races back to the car
  and i'm like, "Who the fuck answered the door and why did you give them your full official title/"
  because we'd been joking about waking you up
  saying things like "Don't Poke the Bear-a"
 me: OH SHIT.
JOVI: and then we end up waking up Busta
  and we sped out of your hood
 me: my eyes are tearing up.
JOVI: :)

Good thing the DH didn't show up to the front door with a gun.
That story makes judging the cd's that much more fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Here's an update on good ol' Beavis.

Read it before reading the rest of this entry.

I have to admit, I wasn't sad when I first found out about Beavis. That guy was a total asshole to us from the instant we moved in. And really? What a loser. Never moved out of his parents' house for very long. Never had a real job. Never did anything with his life except cause trouble, surf, park cars to rot in front of his parents' housee, and make babies.

But as the day wore on and I did a little online reading about his untimely demise, I felt a growing unease. Despite the fact that I really believe he reaped what he sowed in life, knowing that the person who shot him multiple times is still on the loose is incredibly unsettling. Not that I expect them to come after me or anything like that.

No, it's just the escalation of a lack of humanity that Beavis exhibited himself most of the time. Whomever killed Beavis is Beavis times twenty on the asshole scale. And that's a helluva scale. I would feel differently if there was a suspect apprehended. It would be like a Hollywood movie ending. Everything tied up in a neat little package.

But life is rarely about neat little packages. It's more like a haphazardly woven piece of cloth with different sizes and colors of thread. No even sides, no consistent thread count, just squiggly pieces twisting around and through other pieces willy-nilly. I think I need a reason for Beavis' death, even though I can guess at it. He died because he was an asshole to the wrong person. But really? Weird shit can happen to anyone without rhyme or reason, no matter how desperately we try to find that very thing.

So what do I get out of the Beavis experience, other than realizing that my most entertaining blog entries are due to the pain and stress he inflicted on me? I don't know. It may be too early to know. I'm happy I don't have to worry that he'll steal our stuff, set our house on fire, literally attack us when we walk to our car, or park another goddam vehicle in front of our house for a year anymore. Is that it? Is that where the psychotic Beavis thread in life ends?

Maybe so. Maybe so.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Hey, what?

Long time, no post.

I saw this photo on the internetz and thought I'd share. I want this shirt!

Today is Mother's Day. I gotta call my mom in a few minutes. I'm bummed I won't be able to see her today, but my sister and I are planning on visiting next month for Father's Day. For both of us, job stuff is keeping us on our toes and in town. Bleh! Luckily our parents understand, and they're busy trying to save their house from the Basset Hound puppy they got a couple months ago anyway.

I just realized that my mom is much like my derby team in a key attitude perspective. They both undersell themselves. When I was a kid, my family would watch Jeopardy on tv while eating dinner, and my mom was always able to quickly answer all the trivia questions. She's a very literate, very smart, very astute woman. But because of some of the things life dealt her from within and without, she doesn't see what she does so well. She could do amazing things if she thought she could. At one point in her life she had wanted to be a lawyer. She would've been a KICKASS lawyer, but for various reasons, she didn't think she could. So she didn't. I wish she had, because I think it would've been the best mental workout she could ever have!

And that's applicable to my team, as well. An amazing group with amazing abilities, and when the collective keeps its cool, a bunch of kickassery happens on the track. But man, once self-doubt weasels its way in on the bench, the motivation to do well kills the aptitude, and it's back to being the Bad News Bears sometimes.

Of course this happens a lot to a lot of different people in different situations. It's human nature. And I know I sound kinda hippyish in that I do think a positive attitude can help with aptitude in many situations. Lately I've been really, REALLY down on myself. I don't know whether it's just me or whether it's coming from those around me as well, but really? Life's too short for that.

So this is today's message:

You're OK. In fact, you're probably pretty fucking awesome. Whatever you're doing at work, at home, for derby, for the local homeless shelter or animal rescue? THAT'S FUCKING FANTASTIC. You rock! Whenever you think no one notices you or says thanks for what you do? They may be too shy, or momentarily too caught up in their world to let you know that you affect them in a positive way. You matter. You really do.