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I'm not here to tell you how many calories you can burn roller skating, I'm here to incite and entertain.
Take me or leave me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Incident Pt. 1 [Fighting and Port City]

This is a tough blog for me to write. I knew someday I would have to. ...Because it is the most dramatic thing that has every happened to me in my skating “career”. It was bound to surface eventually. It is pertinent now, because of a little rumble that occurred earlier this month, on October 9th, at a Port City game.  In my opinion, everyone I know has grossly overreacted. But perhaps that is just because my experience has been vastly, outrageously different. The Port City fight, and the reaction to it, spurred me to finally write about my own “incident”. I thought I had something written about this already, but when I turned on my old computer I just had several documents filled with angry, lengthy rants about management.  I will use some excerpts from those, but unfortunately I will have to fill in the gaps.

You can’t really see what happens after the initial impact. The girls are pretty much engulfed instantaneously by fellow skaters and long constant whistles can be heard from the refs. Within seconds the fighting skaters are pulled apart and the announcer reassures the audience everything is okay. That’s it. Done. Over with. Big whoop. Rumor has it, the Undead Bettys who were scheduled to bout Port City later this season, cancelled the game upon hearing the news of this fight.

A line needs to be drawn here to differentiate this incident from what can be misconstrued as a dirty team. It is possible that some teams are accustomed to playing unfair and purposefully implement dirty tactics on the track. They, together as a team, make an effort to sabotage legitimate game play. And then there are fluke accidents where a couple girls’ egos and tempers get the best of them and shit breaks loose. And when that happens, you just need to regroup as a league, put a lid on the bullshit, and enforce the proper consequences to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

You see, I started skating with a league where fighting was encouraged and bad feelings and resentment amongst skaters was nurtured. Fights occurred midgame on a regular basis as announcers cheered and rallied the crowd. Particular skaters were known for starting scuffles on the track, and were never reprimanded for it. While no one was ever told outright to stage a fight or throw a punch on the track, the behavior was never discussed or dealt with once the skater served their time in the penalty box. I’m sorry but if an individual can be depended on to throw a punch at least once a bout that person needs to be dealt with off track, bar none. But it was overlooked because the audience liked it and it pumped up the crowd. So with that league, fighting was not just individualized isolated incidents, it actually was, the way the team was. It was veiled as just a bunch of moody women who were prone to bicker and fight, but the underlying truth was a rogue management exploiting the skaters and playing them off each other for the benefit of the rink owner’s pocket book.

[This type of behavior was never called!]

Now, that’s not how it went down at the Port City fight earlier this month. They put an end to it. No one can be heard over the loudspeaker inciting the crowd or encouraging the skaters. Everyone was mortified, even the audience. I’m coming to the defense of both Port City and Undead. For one, everyone is overreacting, this stuff happens, and they are dealing with the skaters in question in an appropriate manner. And second, fighting IS absolutely unacceptable, and skaters’ safety should without question always be put first. It is crucial to set an example of good ethics and create and air of camaraderie. If a team feels their safety is at risk they SHOULD pull the plug on a game. It’s unfortunate, and it’s not the end of the world for Port City, but perhaps it is acts like Undead’s cancellation that will help display an attitude of no-tolerance for this sort of behavior in our sport. I commend Undead for their decision, but I also have empathy for Port City because I understand these things happen and it’s no one’s fault. It doesn’t necessarily mean an entire team is prone to playing dirty; this was a fluke accident. But each team has to look out for their best interests and protect their players, and I understand that too.

It would help to have some background on my own experience and on the incident that ultimately led to me leaving the NorCal RollerGirls. Months after it happened, (years ago now) my dad wrote a play by play of the incident, to help with our legal documents actually. (Yes, we were considering pursuing legal action regarding this). The NorCal RollerGirls were in the habit of video taping EVERY SINGLE GAME, and they had video of this entire incident and were withholding it from us, (for fear of us taking legal action maybe?) We really just wanted to see exactly how much time elapsed between when I hit the ground and when my dad intervened on the track. Anyhow, we didn’t end up pressing charges, but the document still serves well for my records and is pretty helpful in describing what went down in a detailed and colorful manner. Honestly, I have no reason not to use the actual names of the people in question, so I’m going to.

Happy Halloween! [Costumes + 8 Wheels of Death]

Did anyone else hear that “Roller Girl” is one of the most popular costumes this year? I know at least one person whose kid is going as a Roller Girl, and check out this picture some fans submitted to the Santa Cruz Derby Girls’ website. Looks like a school costume parade or something… 

I’m not sure how I feel about this: if it promotes the burlesque, cartoonish, costumey aspect of the sport, or if it just shows how popular and mainstream the sport is becoming. After all, there are plenty of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson costumes this year and no one would accuse baseball of being illegitimate just because a couple of its players became a popular Halloween costume. After all, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls wear sports jerseys anyway. Still, I think it’s a subject worth discussing: Roller Girl as a Halloween costume.

I guess it just never occurred to me for it to be a costume. My first instinct was to be offended. Let me explain, … I recently went to an 80’s party, and I decided that instead of wearing neon day-glo colors, leg warmers and crimping my hair, I would pay homage to what I think was the coolest part of the 80’s and go punk rock style. Now, while I do like the Ramones and OpIvy and have been known to don a CBGB shirt, I felt a little ridiculous putting on excessive temporary tattoos. I was afraid to attend my real punk rocker friend’s party later in the week in the same costume, lest I be viewed by her friends as a poser, or worse- like I was making fun of punk rock.  So imagine my reaction when I saw this photo on a H.S. friends facebook page and I messaged her enthusiastically saying, “OMG! I had no idea you were a roller girl! You skate with Sac City? That’s awesome!”

…and SHE said… “No! But that was the most fun Halloween costume ever! I won first prize that night!” As you can imagine I felt a little deflated. Like, “Oh, …you like roller derby enough to dress up as it for Halloween, but not enough to be an actual roller girl” was how I felt. But then I got over it. You see, I like to talk about roller derby and recruit people, but if people aren’t interested people aren’t interested. When I am shot down by someone who does not want to skate I just say, “Hey, we need fans too.” So instead, like my homage to punk rock, I choose to believe my friend was merely paying tribute to how bad ass roller derby is. And for that, thank you! She does look pretty darn good, doesn’t she?

And apparently the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls out of Bloomington Indiana made their own zombie Halloween movie, premiering tonight- on Halloween! Check out their official movie website here, and view the trailer below:

Hey, it’s no Whip It, (actually- it looks downright god awful to me), but maybe it’s worth a shot. If anyone wants to send me a review, (or a free copy of the film) I’d be more than happy to receive those. You can also read an interview with some of the makers of the film here.

Have a safe Halloween everybody. Don’t drive drunk!

The Diamond Anniversary Helmet

[Me and The Helmet
at the 75th Anniversary Celebration]
If you haven’t yet read about the awesome event that happened earlier this month celebrating 75 years of Roller Derby you can read my summary of it here. It was filled with celebrity skaters from the past and was an excellent opportunity to rub elbows and talk shop with some of the greats. Knowing this event was going to be a star-studded evening I had the foresight to bring a spare helmet to have autographed so that later East Bay Roller Derby could auction or raffle it off as a fundraiser. I did buy the helmet however. Now, if I had better foresight, I would have drafted a letter 2 weeks prior and asked to have the helmet donated, but hey- next time. Let that be a lesson to you other struggling leagues out there. On another note, there is a “single-impact” helmet issue coming up in California legislation soon. Basically, once the helmet has experienced a serious impact the integrity of the helmet is compromised and it needs to be replaced. I went to a local skateboard shop with an indoor ramp to buy the helmet and the ones they had were on display, (not in boxes) and were presumably used by boarders on the ramp. I was hard up and needed the helmet and wasn’t planning on wearing it anyway so I bought it, but obviously these people knew nothing about safety and single impact helmets, because the guy totally sold me a marked up, used helmet for 40 bucks. Douche bags. Anyhow, I figure since some of the signatures are not legible it would be useless without a full description of those who had penned their name to it. While there were many, many skaters at the event that night I failed to ask, the John Hancock I regret missing the most was that of Mary Youpelle, the oldest living derby legend. Nevertheless, I did get some terrific people if I do say so myself. Thank you everyone! And without further ado…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It’s Tax Season! - Skater Profile: CynTax #1040ez

Skater Name: CynTax 
(officially [or formerly?] CynTax Terror)
“Because I’m a tax accountant and I’m easy!” But also, being “an accountant is semi-unusual in the derby world, so I wanted my skate name to reflect my profession.”-Cyn

Number: 1040ez
“The number, 1040ez, for those that don’t know, is the standard short form for tax preparation. Get it, short form. During tax season it really is CynTax season because I’m working crazy hours while trying to keep up my attendance at derby practice so I can make the rosters.”-Cyn

Team Affiliations: Currently with SVRG, previously with B.A.D. Girls

Derby Debut Date: January 2006

Skating Background:
“As far as skating goes; I am a child of the 80’s, so skating parties were a weekly staple in my life. Until I started my roller derby career in 2006, I hadn’t skated since the late 80’s. It was like riding a bike in some ways, but it still took time to build upon those basic skating skills.” However, “I was very heavily into gymnastics competition all through my childhood. I really feel this training has been extremely helpful in roller derby. In particular, it has helped me to better take falls by rolling out of them or ‘crumpling’ to reduce the impact to any one particular part of the body.” -Cyn

Preferred Position: Jammer/Human Target, Downward Facing Dog, Short Stop and The Flail

Accomplishments: September Skater of the Month 2010, Bout MVP, 2009 Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps on Tickin’ Award and most laps skated at SVRG’s first annual skate-o-thon fundraiser in 2009, after skating 315 laps or nearly 24 miles in 2 hours!

Derby Wife: Megan “Satan’s Kitten” Pittsley
“What I really admire about Cyn is her confidence and fire (hence why I call her 'fighty mouse'). Even though she's small, she doesn't let anyone intimidate her or make her feel unsure about herself, regardless of their size. 
She's always in it to win it.”– Megan Pittsley

Favorite Quote: Shit or get off the pot!

Derby Theme Song: Get Back and How Low Can You Go, both by Ludacris
“I listen to this during warm-ups before every bout, it helps me get psyched up” -Cyn

Hidden Talents: “Hmm…I’m really good at scaring guys away!”-Cyn

Pet Peeves: Insincerity, political correctness, bullshit, apathy and tact

Guilty Pleasures: McDonalds and daily naps

Halloween Costume this year? I'm gong to rock a flapper girl get up.  I think it will be easy to skate in at the skate-o-thon.

Celebrity Crush: Winona Ryder
“She’s crazy and hot and people tell me I look and act like her”-Cyn

You Decide:
 ~CYN~              /               ~WIN~

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Auntie Social's Daily Affirmation

So I don’t know if you all have seen this video of the adorable curly haired child affirming how wonderful her whole life is, but it’s pretty darn precious. I made a, let’s not say parody, but tribute video to little Jessica. A tip of the hat to you, you self-affirming life lover you.

…And here’s my version. Please enjoy.


We can do anything good! Ya ya ya…

And a brief shout out to Robert Sutton who, upon viewing my blog, felt compelled to e-mail me and explain that the image at the top of my page was “kind of unacceptably large for an image that loads every time”- and took the liberty to compress the file himself and send it along. While I don’t mind being unacceptable from time to time, this error was apparently just too egregious to ignore. Thank you for correcting my obscene disregard for people’s time and patience Rob. (And since I’m always down to promote someone else, check out his site here).

WARNING: [If you say what you think don't expect to hear what you like.]

 If you say what you think,
don't expect to hear what you like.

 I’m largely misunderstood. I don’t have any glorified romantic ideas about being a loner. I know that I am abrasive, short tempered, horrible at first impressions and uncomfortably honest. I understand that people’s interpretations are based on these characteristics, I don’t blame them.  It just means that I spend more of my life defending myself than getting things done. It’s quite exhausting. I have a constant internal struggle of just going with the current or making the decision to follow my gut and swim upstream. Obviously it wouldn’t be such a struggle if I had better tools and tactics for expressing myself. I’m just so explosive.

I can’t help it.  (Believe me I’ve tried). That doesn’t mean my glass is half empty and I’ve accepted the negative. I persevere. I write, I think about the positive, I think about the future, and I push the other stuff away. Sometimes it does make me sad knowing other skaters don’t understand where I’m coming from or think I’m a defector, especially considering how much I love roller derby, but it only serves as more motivation to keep my dream alive.

Whether it was for my friends on the playground, or raising issues of religious equality on campus, to questioning the environmental impact of adding paper toilet seat covers to bathrooms, to eventually co-founding the first Gay-Straight Alliance at my High School, my whole life I have been an advocate for justice and spoken up for those who did not have a voice. It has been challenging, but always rewarding. So I say: “Embrace that which defines you”. Being loud and being honest is my gift people, not a hindrance!

My message to other skaters is to stand up for what you believe in, and if it doesn’t feel right it’s probably not. Your league is not the only one around and your integrity is important too. Of course, pick your battles and understand that if you say what you think, don’t expect to hear what you like.

Friday, October 22, 2010

75 Years of Roller Derby - A Diamond Celebration

        75 Years of 
      Roller Derby

       A Diamond 

[J. Seltz...
This picture is just for you.]

:Auntie Social – East Bay Roller Derby
[Lauren Kallio]

The first game of Roller Derby was held on August 13th 1935 as a cross-country endurance race. Accordingly,  2010 marks the 75th Anniversary of the sport. Over those seven plus decades Roller Derby has endured many changes and continues to evolve.  Recently a part of that evolution has been the creation of the National Roller Derby Association. Founded in 2007, president and visionary Carlos Ray strives to unite all generations and styles of the sport to attain national recognition.

On Saturday October 16th the NRDA hosted an historic event near San Francisco California to celebrate 75 years of Roller Derby and honor those who have made significant contributions to the sport’s continuing success. Honored that evening was keynote speaker and roller derby pioneer:  Mr. Jerry Seltzer, son of the sport’s creator Leo. Jerry, otherwise known as “The Commissioner” was the recipient of the first annual Leo Seltzer Award, created to pay recognition to those who have paved the way for the progress of the sport of Roller Derby.

Lending credibility to the event, the NRDA is the first derby association that Jerry Seltzer has endorsed since 1973, stating that he is on staff and actively working with the Association to achieve all our derby dreams and get the sport into the Olympics. While a few skaters of today’s modern flat track did have words with some of the feisty banked track skaters of yesteryear, getting roller derby on the fast track to national recognition was the main consensus of the evening for all. As Jerry said, “My dad always wanted a 100% legitimate game, that was his dream, and he never lived to see it.” The Commissioner’s hope for the men and women of today’s Roller Derby to achieve that dream was evident in his speech and demeanor that evening. Energy and excitement filled the air and it felt like the start of something big.

Representatives from all generations of derby were present at the event. Split into three waves of 25 years, (1935-1960, 1960-1985, and 1985-present) there were skaters from dating as far back as the original roller derby, all the way to women of today’s flat and banked tracks. Mary “Pocahontas” Youpelle, the last living derby skater of the 30’s, was in attendance and just as spunky as ever.  Her only advice of the night: “Toe stops are for dancers, not speed skaters!”

                [Mary Youpelle]
Among some of the derby legends were Carole “Peanuts” Meyer, who when asked how she felt about the difference between flat and banked track roller derby, called flat track skaters “crazy”, saying the floors are too hard and citing incidents like Tequila Mockingbird’s of the Windy City Rollers paralysis injury as an example of modern derby girls’ cutthroat ruthlessness. 

Also in attendance that evening was Cliff Butler of the revived International Roller Derby League of derby’s second wave. With consummate coaching skills and an incredible history as a skater, Mr. Butler has now become and integral component of the NRDA, assisting with skating and coaching for the Sugar Town Rollers of Oxnard CA. In addition, new to the staff of NRDA is Brian “Blade” Gallagher, co-inventor of Jam Skate, RollerJam skater and owner of California Skate School in Sherman Oaks. A stuntman and skater with several television appearances and 15 plus years professional skating experience, Blade was also the subject for Andrew Wilson’s character Razor in the movie Whip It.

While discussing how to get more men into the sport of roller derby with Coach Blade, Peanuts burst in: “Just call them a bunch of chickens and then maybe they’ll come and play!” While derby greats were there such as Judy Arnold, Bill Gardner and Gloria Mack Gardner, Rita Williams, Frank Macedo and Sue Fregulia, the firecracker of the evening was Lorreta “Iodine” Behrens, -who by the way, invites any present day skater out to Vegas so she can “teach them how to really skate”.
Loretta "Iodine" Behrens big pimpin Ann Calvello style 
as Georgia Hase looks on

Representing modern day derby were girls of the East Bay Roller Derby, Port City Rollers, the Brawlin’ Bettys, Redding Roller Girls, Sonora’s Mountain Derby and a skater all the way from Vermont’s Central Roller Derby. Of course, the new banked track team partnered with the NRDA, the Sugar Town Rollers of Oxnard, were also there. Corinna Hamilton and Paula Daleo of Sugar Town presented Jerry Seltzer with a team shirt and dubbed him an honorary Sugar Daddy, reassuring him not to worry, that “it’s not as expensive as it sounds”.

The evening was an extraordinary culmination of 75 years of roller derby. Young and old came together to reminisce celebrate and dream of a greater tomorrow. Little Iodine Behrens reflected, “It was surreal seeing Margie Laszlo, Delores Tucker and Carole Meyer together again”. Sweet Alyce, head NSO of the Mountain Derby Girls, captured the air of the evening commenting, “Being at the Roller Derby 75th Anniversary showed me that derby never really died between [1935] and the latest incarnation. Roller Derby has always lived in the hearts of the people associated with the sport.” And she is right. Roller Derby has not only survived but thrived for the past 75 years and we intend to keep it going strong into the next 25. See you all at the 100th!

 EBRD ladies with J. Seltz, Judi, Frank Macedo,
Georgia and Iodine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

So my birthday was last Tuesday and I vowed to post a blog for it. It is a week later, but here it is. Creating a list of my favorites was pretty fun, so how fitting for a birthday blog.

…Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The bad news is I’m not Oprah and in this Favorites Blog I won’t be giving any of you anything. I take that back. I give you all my everlasting gratitude and appreciation.

The good news is that this isn’t your High School yearbook, for what it’s worth- you ALL get best smile and most likely to succeed.

If you are lucky enough to have known me for a decade, you might know I used to be the school Marching Band’s arbiter of some pretty epic Top 8 lists. Hence, 8.  I hope I can live up to the memory of me.

Top 8 Roller Derby Favorites
for muh birfday blog:

Favorite Term (Event?): The Power Jam! A power jam is when one jammer accumulates 4 minors or commits a major and has been sent to the penalty box. At this point the remaining jammer is free to not only skate unopposed but also earn “ghost points”. It’s worded kind of confusing in section 8.5 of the WFTDA rule book: “The Jammer earns a point for each opposing skater who is not on the track immediately upon scoring her first point on an opposing blocker in each scoring pass”. What it means is you not only score points on your opposing blockers, but all your own team’s blockers as well, AND the opposing jammer.  Being a jammer, you can see why I love when a power jam happens, (in my favor of course).

Favorite Penalty: Calling off the jam when you are not lead jammer. It’s the only funny penalty I can think of!

Favorite Derby Theme Songs: (I mean songs to skate to). Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar and I would die for you (if you want me to) by Prince. My personal Roller Derby theme song however is Bad Reputation by Joan Jett.

Favorite Derby Names: Tenacious Diva, Queen Kamehamayhem (If you don’t get it I don’t care, if you do: My Hawaiian roller derby name would be Pele Longstocking {FYI folklore goes that Pele was blond}[talk about a tangent}) and Quadzilla (doesn’t he have gold plates on his skates?) And of course, OMG WTF…Some names I almost chose include Public Enema©, Sacrilicious© and Bitch Doctor©. If it were up to Loretta Behrens and Gloria Gardner however I’d be called Lauren “Blank Slate” Kallio due to my lack of tattoos.

Favorite Derby Team Themes: (Besides the Voodoo Dolls and Messy Bettys…)

-NeanderDolls- Caveman Themed
-Reservoir Dolls- Reservoir Dogs Themed
-Derby Liberation Front- Promoters of revolutionary agendas
-And Clockwork Orange…with Sac City Rollers. But I can’t really remember if that was a team theme, or just a bout theme.   
...Also, I’ve been trying to swindle my team into having a B.A.R.T. theme, -call ourselves “Bay Area Rolling Thunder” and wear conductor uniforms, but only Just Apryl will go for it.

Favorite Skates: [Quads]-Carreras and Wickeds. (Aesthetically, I like these quads but have never skated with them -265 Vegans’s, Dash, Diablos, 2-Tones?) I would also love to have me a pair of Moxi's.

[Roller Blades]- MetroBlades (OMGah! I loved these skates. They were like grown up fisher price skates- they came with shoes and you could unbuckle them out of the skates and wear them around. I love love loved them.) My current rides (and have been for the past 6 years)- my baby blue Rollerblades, (I liked them so much I bought them twice).

Favorite Gear: My Ultra-Wheels Wrist Guards, (I broke my wrist 3 separate times, in 3 separate places, each time skating without wrist guards. Read my blog wrist pissed). Mouth Guards- (I’ve lost a tooth, not skating, but still, it was traumatic). And of course, as I mention in my blog Welcome to Roller Derby, I think tailbone protection should be mandated.

Favorite Skating Surface: A banked track? And GOLDEN SKATE’S NEW FLOOR!

(ya sorry, I don't know what it is).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Evils Name Registry (or, Auntie Social 4 EVA)

This has become increasingly relevant and just too pertinent to put off any longer. I continually am asked “Auntie! When do we get to register our names?” – And what they mean is register their roller derby names on the widely recognized national roller derby registry at twoevils.org. I’ve been putting the question off because I have a personal beef with the name registry and am kind of at a loss about what to do. But now I have to make a decision as a league president, on behalf of my team and in their best interest, as to how we are going to handle names. If it were a perfect world, every roller girl would be brilliantly clever and no duplicates would ever occur. And as we all know, all roller girls are not brilliantly clever. Err… I mean, it is not a perfect world. So the time has come for an alternative to the current method to be introduced.

Name Plea: To Ann T. Social, From Auntie Social

Dear Ann T. Social,

If you’re anything like me, you dreaded this day: the day another skater would ask you permission for a similar roller derby name. But before you turn me down, please, PLEASE hear my plea.

My name is Auntie Social.

I was originally registered on the National Roller Girl Registry in the winter of 2006 with the NorCal RollerGirls. At the time, there were no other “Auntie” themed names. I was under the impression I had made up “Auntie Social” on a long car drive with my brother, (the memory of which is now very near and dear to my heart).

I skated with the NorCal Roller Girls for two whole seasons with the teams The Hustlers, The VooDoo Dolls, The Messy Betties and Pirates Booty, all under the name Auntie Social. When I left Chico, I briefly joined the Sac City Rollers, also skating under the name Auntie Social, but did not stay long enough with them to bout.

By 2008 NCRG re-registered their roster and I, no longer on it, dropped off the National Roller Girl Name registry.

In the Winter of 2009 I joined Antioch’s Undead Bettys, also skating under the name Auntie Social. By then the name registry told me it was too similar to Ann T. Social, (though I don’t understand why you were allowed to register your name, as I was registered under Auntie Social at the time you were registered. Go figure).

Now, I am starting my own league in the San Francisco East Bay called East Bay Roller Derby. It would absolutely break my heart to not be allowed to skate under the name I’ve skated with for nearing 5 years now. Seeing as we are on complete opposite coasts we would probably never bout each other.  Included are several pictures, which to me represent priceless memories, of the legacy Auntie Social has already created. Please consider allowing me to skate with the name that has already earned me so many fans.

Derby Love,
Auntie Social