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05/31/08 04:01 - 62ºF - ID#44500


OK. Got my makeup on, my contacts in, am lightly sprinkled with gold glitter. Have my uniform on. Didn't have time to sew on the last big gold star for the last bout I was in. (I mark my bouts like bombing runs on my skirt, with bigger stars for the victories and red stars for the bouts where I wasn't a Knockout.) That's OK. It's lucky.
Got my fishnets on, over my opaque dance tights. (I've seen third-degree fishnet burns. Nobody wants that.)
Got my skate wheels cleaned, changed out my busted skate laces.

Winner takes all tonight.

(Anyone still thinking of coming... 101 Oliver St., North Tonawanda, doors at 6:30.)

Did y'all see me on the news, incidentally???? Friday night! I'll embed another video while I'm doing this. Yay!

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Permalink: blastoff_.html
Words: 133
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/29/08 12:26 - 49ºF - ID#44482

counting down

The 2008 roller derby season of the Queen City Roller Girls ends on Saturday. The winner of that bout will take the league championship, as well-- just by coincidence, the two teams scheduled for that final bout ended up in a dead heat.

Following is a rough draft of a post I'm working on that I'll probably never put anywhere else. I'm just posting it here because my math processes when I'm slightly ahem not sober are pretty entertaining. But read it if you're interested for a different perspective on the end of this roller derby season. I get pretty cheesy by the end, but it's true.

This is the culmination of nine months of work for most of us. The beginners, and those of us veterans who felt we had a whole lot of improvement to do, have been training fairly intensively since August of last year. I was out of town for much of August, so I didn't really get back into the swing of training hard until September.
I average around 8 hours of training a week. (It's often more, when you add in the extracurriculars like walks, bike rides, weightlifting in the basement, and Mia's Workout Class of Doooom, which she explained burns about 1500 calories on average. That starts up again in September, we're pretty sure. And she'll be making appearances at the gym over the summer, usually unscheduled substitutions for other instructors. But then, sometimes I go out of town or take a break. So it's hard to say really.) Two or three two-hour practices, sometimes a fourth two-hour practice, occasionally an hour or two at open skate, and the workout classes. Most weeks it's 10 hours, some weeks it's as little as 6 hours.
Times however many weeks it's been since the beginning of September.
By my admittedly terrible math, that's like... 39 weeks.
Minus the week I was in London, wherein I only practiced 2 hours (and schlepped my gear 4,000 miles, a whole suitcase to itself)... and Christmas... sure. We'll say 35 weeks.
Times 8 hours.
(Aside: What a remarkable coincidence! Never mind. Anyway.)

And there are twenty girls on my team who've put in similar time commitments. Plus two coaches. (A skater's brother, who used to coach youth hockey, and a former rink employee, who coached his own kids to the speed skating national team repeatedly. Both unpaid.)
Then there's the other team, which I think numbers like 14 plus 2 coaches. They've, well, I can't speak for their hours because a lot of the hours, above, were spent with my team, but we'll just say they all probably put in a comparable amount.
And we pay to do this. We pay $40/month in dues, per skater. Plus we buy our own equipment and uniforms. And merch: any of us wearing an item with a logo on it, purchased said item at the same price as a fan would.
We pay half what we collect in admissions to our venue.
We donate a dollar from every ticket we sell to whichever charity is our charity that month.

It costs you $15 to get in. You're seeing the results of over 13,000 hours of unpaid labor. Plus you get to buy beer at reasonable North Tonawanda prices. And girls show you their underwear and hit you in the shins really hard with skate wheels.

We're trying to have comfier accomodations next season. We'll put on an expanded schedule and bout teams from other leagues and other cities, who may well kick our ass or actually injure us. We are busting our asses to get ourselves into WFTDA (, bringing in an observer from the Class A-rated Ohio Rollergirls to give us a reference after this bout. We are trying to get into the national scene. We'll give you an amazing show for your money.

We just need support to finish out this season. Our attendance peaked at near-sellout-capacity early in the season, and has been tapering off. We improved the venue. It's comfy now. There are better seats. And more of them. There are better toilets, and more of them.
We need money for our travel team; some of our best skaters are not going to be able to join the team because they can't afford the extra cost of an additional uniform, more travel, and an extended dues-paying season.

This is hard. This is grassroots. This is amateur. This is, as I mentioned, over 13,000 hours of unpaid labor, not counting the support staff. (For example, the 40+ hours (e:zobar) spent hand-coding our new scoreboard, which he donated.)

Yes it's fun. But it's a damn lot of hard work.

We need recruits for next season. We need new skaters. We can't promise you it'll always be fun. But we can promise you that it'll be like nothing you've ever done. And on the whole, you'll know pretty quickly whether it's going to be worth it for you.
There's a good chance I won't make the squad for this final bout. If that doesn't happen, I will be in costume. You don't want to miss this costume; I promise it's better than any other one I've ever worn. But if I am skating, then I promise you I also am better than you've seen before and I am determined to do something better than falling dramatically for the highlight reel. (That makes every promo reel, incidentally-- that fall from January-- it was pretty impressive.)

Anyway. I'm excited, and am excited for it to be over, because I'm not one who deals well with antici.... pation. I've never won anything before this season, and am still totally not sure what to do with it. Our coach wants us to just have faith and believe, and I just don't know how.

So this is the end of about 420 hours of work for me. This is the payoff. The payoff may consist of shrieking myself hoarse while wearing a really elaborate hairdo. (I can't tell you what the costume was going to be! It's a secret! But look at the poster for this bout and you might get an idea. If you come to the bout, by the way, you get much love from me; if you come in costume, you get more respect than I can easily enumerate in text format.)
But whatever the payoff is-- skating or costume, winning or not-- it's totally been worth it.
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Permalink: counting_down.html
Words: 1066
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/19/08 12:25 - 45ºF - ID#44392


Z and I have a bird feeder. I just blogged this in detail over on my Livejournal, but there's a local aspect I figured I'd share over here. Besides my smugness at my own innate knowledge of birds enabling me to successfully identify a Common Grackle on first guess (once I'd gotten a good look and verified it wasn't a starling or a crow or a blackbird). Because it made me remember a passage I'd read in a book review.

There's a rumor going around, and I think my source was a student of Z's mother's, who is the son of the band's drummer, that Jackdaw is either breaking up or going on hiatus or in some way just not being Jackdaw.

So I thought I'd repost this excerpt from a book called Wildwood
that made me cry when I first read it in a book review on Bookslut. "If it doesn't break your heart, you don't have one my dear."

"Lorenz observed that jackdaws form lifelong attachments, as rooks seem to do, and that there is a distinct, well-understood pecking order within the tribe to which all the members adhere without question. Lorenz gradually learnt the Jackdaw vocabulary: 'Zick, Zick' is uttered by the courting male to mean 'Let's nest together' and, once in possession of an actual mate and nest, 'Keep out.' Any act of social delinquency is immediately censured by the other tribe members with a variation of this call, expressed by Lorenz as 'Yip, Yip.' Most interesting of all is Lorenz's discovery of the subtle distinction between 'Kia' and 'Kiaw.' The first is the cry uttered in flight by the dominant jackdaws to urge the whole flock outward to new feeding grounds. The second is to urge them home. Thus, 'Kiaw' plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the flock when one meets another.

Most birds seem to keep their song quite separate from their language. The staccato alarm cry of a wren or blackbird is quite distinct from its sweet song. Jackdaws, however, incorporate their words into their songs to create, as Lorenz puts it, something more like a ballad, in which they can re-create past adventures or directly express emotions. Not only this, but the singer accompanies the different cries with the corresponding gestures, quivering or threatening like the lustiest performer passionately enacting a song. In a way, the jackdaw is mimicking itself, as a solitary jackdaw kept in a cage will come to mimic human speech, but it may also, Lorenz thinks, be expressing emotion. When a marten broke into the roosting aviary at Altenberg and killed all but one of his jackdaw flock, the lone survivor sat all day on the weathervane and sang. The dominant theme of her song, repeated over and over, was 'Kiaw,' 'Come back, oh, come back.' It was a song of heartbreak."
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Permalink: jackdaw.html
Words: 510
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/07/08 06:52 - 63ºF - ID#44265


Related to my earlier post about becoming a Buffalonian, it just finally clicked and I realized why the Livejournal community Buffalo Dorks is so successful. Other cities have communities like it, and they're always dead, or just spam (come to my show! new store opening! with no replies or comments or anything); newcomers to Buffalo and the Dorks community are always astonished.
But it's just more of the same: the natural Buffalonian tendency to use people to get information, the tendency to want everything to come from other humans.
I like it a lot. If I want a haircut, instead of just going to the closest place, I ask on there. (Actually, I go to Style Lab and ask for Cha-Cha because she skates with me and is awesome-- but same deal.) If I need a doctor, I ask if anyone knows a good one. If I have a garage sale, I post about it on there. If I need to find a sofa, I post and ask if anybody's got one going spare.

Today I drove to Cheektowaga and got twenty free strawberry plants from a fellow Buffalo Dorks member, because she posted on there to offer them to good homes. This is a pretty good deal, as strawberry plants are like three dollars each at the garden center, so I'd never be able to afford twenty. They'll spread, too, so I may have some to give away next year. (Meanwhile, if anybody wants strawberry plants, let me know; she said she still may not be able to find homes for all of them. She had a *lot*. They're June-bearing but I don't know the specific variety.)

It's not just that Buffalonians want to get information from other people-- if it was just wanting, it would still be not a very good community. But it seems we love to give information, too. And even if we don't know an answer, we often will post to point to someone who will. I just told someone who was asking if anyone knew any mountain dulcimer players who gave lessons that they should go to the Irish session at Nietszche's on Saturdays, because even if none of those musicians knew that instrument, they would certainly know someone who did.

Anyhow. More Buffalo-related navel-gazing.

Hm, maybe this summer I can get the house and yard squared away nicely enough that I could host my own (e:strip) party. That would be fun.

And OH!

I saw (e:mike) and (e:jill) at Allentown on Saturday morning! (At least I'm pretty sure it was you two! I kind of couldn't actually see...) You guys walked past while I was in the yoga cool-down part of the Mia Mauler Workout. If we hadn't been all twisted up like pretzels, and I hadn't been on the completely opposite side of the room, I totally would've yelled something to you, but it seemed, well, not only inappropriate but actually impossible.
So anyway.
Come at 11:30 next week and do the whole class. It starts off with like an hour of cardio kickboxing but after the initial shock wears off, you totally swear that you could kick someone's ass. Lately I almost want someone to try to start some shit with me so that I can fucking take him out. That would be great.
After the kickboxing portion (and lest you think "kickboxing" means "Billy Blanks Tae-Bo Bullshit", Ms. Mauler was the 2003 champion of her weight class in real actual kickboxing, with three victories by knockout in that season. There's kind of a reason we're called the Knockouts. But I digress), it switches over to weight-lifting-- squats and chest work with usually some triceps thrown in. Then after that, she does a couple of ab sets, which are usually murder. Then after that is finally the yoga.
It's a class with everything in it. It is fiendishly hard, but not actually all that difficult; it is usually something that most fitness levels can adapt to and do fairly well at, but you can challenge yourself every week.
And she is *such* an engaging leader, always charming and entertaining and just a tiny bit scary.

So really, all y'alls who signed up for Allentown should come this Saturday. I'll be there. Mia will be there. What more do you need?
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Permalink: wheeee.html
Words: 726
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/05/08 12:42 - 42ºF - ID#44237

going native

So I have this theoretical situation brewing in the back of my mind about a hypothetical scenario in which I might have the need to create an ambiance of fog around an area, through which perhaps an actor will move.
(I'm being circumlocutious because that's really funny when you're as hammered as I am. And I am absolutely sure that the word circumlocuitous or circumlocutious is a word, and I refuse to look it up, but I wish I was sure of the placement of that final I. Spellcheck is unsurprisingly unhelpful.)

Anyway. The venue wherein I was considering this creation of artificial fog has a fog machine, but its use has been banned due to a particular colleague's severe allergy to the stuff.
So I thought perhaps dry ice would suffice.
I asked (e:zobar) and he shrugged; he studied chemistry, but not very intensely, so he knows very little about the theatrical applications of dry ice. Unsurprising.

"Hm," I said. "Who do I know who would know?"
I mentally ran through all my friends, relatives, and acquaintances before I realized that this is it. I've finally gone native. I'm finally thinking like a Buffalonian.

In my native culture, my reaction above would have been, "Where can I look that up?"

But in Buffalo, you don't look stuff like that up, you ask your friends and find somebody who knows about it.

Because everybody in Buffalo knows everybody else, and an expert is usually only one or two degrees of separation away. Knowledge and social obligation go more or less hand-in-hand; networks of favors and those indefinable interpersonal connections that you have to nurture; moms' anniversaries and kids' birthdays and the kinds of parties where you stand around in the attached garage fishing cans of beer out of big plastic ice buckets. You've got a problem, somebody related by blood or marriage, or possibly who you went to school with, either is a guy, or knows a guy, who owns a business that deals with that, or that studied it in school, or that knows the guy who wrote the law about it. It's all in the family, somehow.

I admit this is a more entertaining and satisfying system than just looking shit up. And it's been remarkably effective in a lot of things-- I never look online for custom t-shirts now that I skate on a team with a woman who owns a silkscreening facility.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share my cultural observation here.

Incidentally after last night's roller derby bout, the Knockouts and Saucies are facing a winner-takes-all situation for the league championship at the next bout. May 31st. I'm serious, it will be really exciting.
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Permalink: going_native.html
Words: 450
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/03/08 09:09 - 62ºF - ID#44223


Oh hey, I heard a bunch of you were joining Allentown as a group?
And going to Mia's fitness class?

If you are, I'll see you there this morning.

This morning, we will be working on snap-kicks.
Do you know what that is?
Me neither.
Frankly, I'm terrified. :D
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Permalink: allentown_.html
Words: 49
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/03/08 08:59 - 62ºF - ID#44222

what rubbish is he filling your head wit

I never know what (e:zobar) is telling you about me.

I have one photo to share, though it's posted elsewhere, of the lesbian shotgun wedding.

It was lovely.
I will post the rest of my London photos at some point. Most of them are of Z making stupid faces over weird food.

I am here to do the obligatory pimpage of roller derby. There's a bout tonight. 7 pm, Rainbow Rink, 101 Oliver St. in North Tonawanda.
But what's really amusing is that my team isn't skating, we're hosting it, and we've decided to do so in costume.
The bout theme is "Hell on Wheels", and various of the girls are bringing all their biker friends.
So we're dressing like biker chicks.

If you've ever wanted to see me in a pleather miniskirt, tonight's the night.

Unrelated: Chita is on the shelf by the picture window in the living room, stalking the birds outside. She just crawled slightly backward to see them better, and... fell off the shelf. It was pretty funny.
She's pretending she meant to do that, of course.
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Permalink: what_rubbish_is_he_filling_your_head_wit.html
Words: 186
Location: Buffalo, NY



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