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Derby Demons rock

After wanting to hit a roller derby for ages, I finally got to see one last week. Normally I work Saturdays, which is the day that they skate — but somehow, the stars aligned and they were actually competing on a day I had off, so I just had to go.

I posted an event on, to see if any of my fellow MEEPS (meetin peeps) wanted to go. I had about 10 RSVPs, which seemed about the right size group for that venue.

So, we went.

Now, first off, while waiting for my gaggle to show up, I ran into a college friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since we graduated. That was pretty cool. We chatted, mostly everyone who RSVP’d showed up, and we were ready to rock.

The MEEPs.

Some of the MEEPs.

We sat down in the wrong section (I just looked for seating that could accommodate the group) — we were SCDD fans sitting in the Ohio section! Oh noes! Well, to be fair, most of the Ohio fans were on the floor, and we had no idea of what the rules were and how the game was played, so it was hard to feel tension with the other fans there. Besides, most of the crowd was pretty darned friendly — they were all there to have fun and watch these women compete — and while there is a cheesy  element to it, make no mistake, these women are here to compete.

Gotta have some fun, right?

Gotta have some fun, right?

One of the first things that struck me about the event was the “fun” element involved. These women came up with some great names for themselves — and by great names, I mean laugh out loud, “Oh my God, that’s great!” kind of fun. I think my favorite names were “The Shocker” (her number was “2:1” — just classic), “Cheeseburger” (# 1/4 lb., with a cheeseburger helmet to match), and good ole McShovin (NH4NO3, which is ammonium nitrate, which can be used in improvised explosives).

Now, the stereotype that I had of roller derby involved a lot of 6-foot-tall Amazonian women crushing skulls, sending opponents into the boards or throwing elbows into noses. It’s not. The women were often (physically) your average woman off the street: large, tall, short, small — there was no single defining thing about them. And while there is some hitting/bumping/shouldering involved, the game more revolves around the jammer not contacting anyone in order to score (because if she draws a penalty by hitting someone, she can’t score). So, a lot of the times, you would see a nimble jammer sliding through the pack, ducking and weaving as she went, while the blockers tried to keep anyone from touching her.

Do you want Betty smacking you?

Do you want Betty smacking you?

But make no mistake, this is a game in which the players can get hurt. In the first bout, the B-Team’s captain, Busty Brawler (her number is “36DD”), face-planted. The game immediately stopped, emergency personnel ran to her. I fully expected her to come up with a least a bloody nose — but luckily, she was fine. Another time, a wheel shot off of a players skate and went into the crowd. Yeah, there’s definitely hazards involved!

So, the game consisted of 2 different teams on both sides playing. The first match featured the SCDD’s “B-Unit.” It consisted of 2 20 minute “bouts” (I hope I have the time and terminology correct), with a break in the middle. The second contest featured SCDD’s “Steel Hurtin'” vs the Ohio All-Stars, which was 2 30 minute bouts, with a 30 minute break. So yeah, for the $10 ticket, you’re spending a lot of time there.

The Shocker lines up

"The Shocker" lines up

Now, during the B-Unit match is where we learned the ins and outs of the game. Luckily, the basic rules are in the program — and a couple of the meetin’ folks were thinking out loud during the game and almost answering the questions that were floating around in my brain. The announcers also talked on a “noob” level to help those in the stands get a feel for the game, so it didn’t take long to figure out everything. And once you did get it, the game really opens up. We were fortunate that the B-Unit game was pretty tight — there were several lead changes, and the game came down to the B-Unit calling a time out with 6 seconds on the clock. The Shocker was put in, and she did the rest. (hahahahahahaha~) But seriously, she flew through the pack — and pretty much won the match for them — by a point.

The second bout was much faster — these ladies were pretty much the best that their respective teams could field. I was really impressed by SCDD’s “Snot Rocket Science” — she was an amazing jammer who just flew around the track. Athena, the Steel Hurtin’ captain, threw out some killer blocks that made the crowd wince and say “Ooooooww!” Steel Hurtin’ pretty much crushed the Ohio All-Stars, so the game was a little harder to get into. But it was still a lot of fun.

Some other observations:

  • I was kinda surprised by the amount of women in attendence. To be honest, I expected more slimeball-ish men there to oogle the players (because a lot of them are pretty hot) — but it wasn’t the case. Lots of women, and lots of families. Definitely did not expect that.
  • Steelman. Next time, Ill turn the flash on.

    Steelman. Next time, I'll turn the flash on.

    They did have a mascot. I don’t know if it was an official SCDD mascot, or if he was there to cheer on the Steel Hurtin’, but Steelman was in attendence. While he didn’t have the most creative name or have any kind of special gimmick other than his outfit,  I still have to give him credit — he could kick Steely McBeam’s ass any day.

  • The sense of humor there didn’t end with the players coming up with creative names. During one intermission, there was a pie eating contest, and during it, they played “Stay Hungry” (by Twisted Sister) and then “Eat it” (by Wierd Al Yankovic). My god, it was my teen years come to life.
  • Despite all the tattoos and muttonchops aplenty in the stands and working the event, this was probably the friendliest crowd I’ve ever seen.
  • Cheeseburger’s helmet rocks. Wish I could have gotten a better pic of it.
  • The next time I go, I will get floor seats, or will sit in the bleachers with my back against the wall. And I’ll bring one of those stadium cushions, cause those bleachers get damn uncomfortable after awhile.

Overall, this is a great time. I really recommend you check it out sometime. We had a blast, and I will definitely be back. In fact, I think I’m gonna throw up a link to their site — they deserve it.


How was your turkey day?

Man, right now I feel like I need a vacation from my Thanksgiving.

It’s not that there was anything wrong with it. In fact, now that I have a quiet moment to think, it was pretty darned good. Here’s a brief rundown on what I did:

1) Played Fallout 3 as much as I could. I’m completely hooked by this game right now. Great graphics, HDTV magic. If you’re a video game nerd, this one is great. Took me a little bit to get used to it, but now that I am, rock on. And I also stumbled across a young blogger to help me figure out some quests — Outer Heaven — you can tell she really enjoys playing and helping folks out. (And hey, thumbs up for female gamers — they rock.) Oh, I’ve had the “Wonderful Guy” song that plays on Galaxy News Radio stuck in my head for a few days now, and I don’t mind it. Maybe I’m playing a bit TOO much…

2) Pre-Thanksgiving Pub Crawl: A bunch of folks from went to Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood for a mini-pub crawl. And this is where I realized one of my great loves of this town — the neighborhood bars. I’ll probably expound on this in a post on OMGPittsburgh, but suffice to say independently owned mom and pop bars are something that I love, and this section of town has a billion of them. I had a good friend roll into town and join us late, and it was fantastic to see him since I only get to see him once in a blue moon. We drank our faces off, laughed heartily and had a great time. And lastly, a different friend helped me realize a couple of things — this probably won’t be expounded upon, but I’m pretty happy because of it.

3) Relatively drama-free dinner: In the past, my nephews manage to work my nerves on the holidays. Last year, Nephew No. 3 had just been toliet trained, and was excited to show everyone how he was a big boy now — you know, by whipping it out IN THE DINING ROOM DURING DINNER EVERY 5 MINUTES and using his little portapotty. This year, he was much better, and Nephew No. 4 was pretty hilarious.

4) Pitt vs. WVU: I had the chance to go see this game. My friends have club seats, so I bought an extra ticket from one of them. This was a really interesting game for me — not so much because of what was going on on the field, but rather because I was DEAD SOBER during the game. Why? Cause I had to work after it. But watching the rival fans go at it was a hoot and a half. I’m sure this will be expounded upon later, because it was great people watching.

5) Ultimate Frisbee: I went and played Ultimate Frisbee with the meetin folks on Saturday — something I haven’t done for awhile because I jacked up my left ankle and right calf in spring and it still hurts to do any running. But I was able to get out and play a little bit — the ankle hurts, but not horridly. A different old buddy was in town (haven’t seen him in like 15 years), and he showed up to play with us — it was awesome. We did some lunch afterward. Good times.

6) Tech support: I finally delivered mom’s new computer (but not without much gnashing of teeth), and she’s excited to get it. But now her calls are coming in, and they are questions I can’t answer. She has a Verizon e-mail account, and she’s asking me how to send mail.

Me: Mom, there should be a send button somewhere at the bottom of the area that you type.
Mom: I don’t see it.
Me: Did you scroll down?
Mom: Yes, but it pops up a menu.
Me: (Realized she’s hitting the startup button at the bottom of the screen, clutched my head in disgust)
Mom: Did I just forget how to use this? I can’t find anything.
Me: Mom, it has to be there somewhere. I just can’t help you because I don’t have the program in front of me.
Mom: But I keep doing this…
Me: Mom, I can’t help you until I get out there to see it.
Mom: But it should be there
Me: Mom, I need to see it. I’ll come out Sunday.

(Hindsight is 20/20 moment: I really should have networked that computer to mine ….)

7) Getting sick: Yeah, you know, I’m getting sick. But after a great run over Thanksgiving and a fridge full of turkey goodness leftovers, I’m really not going to complain. Hell, now that I think about it, after all of that and not having an extra day off, I need the rest.

More regular blogging should be resuming shortly.

07 event: Roaring Run hike…

Without a doubt, this is one of those “You had to be there” events to fully appreciate what all went on. The joy, the pain, the absurdity, the psychological scarring of children, and vague parallels to “The Wizard of Oz,” certain Grimm fairy tales and “Gilligan’s Island”–it can’t easily be put in to words, but I’ll do my best and add pictures throughout.

Now, the point of this hike was to do a little exploring in the areas of Roaring Run that I don’t know. For the most part, I know all the mountain biking trails, but there’s a mish-mash of leftover logging and mine roads throughout the 650+ acres, so why not hike around with friends and see what’s out there?

Well, I should have known right off the bat that something was amiss when I showed up at 9:50 and most of the people were already there. We departed promptly at 10:30, which is a first.

The crew at the pavillion. Fast Jason, Pete, Not-so-fast Jason, Dan, Mazz, Christina, Rick. In front, Celeste and Cee Cee. (pls forgive me if I got their names wrong, Christina)

Now, the first part was actually kinda boring, because it’s about 3 miles just to get to the area that I wanted to explore. We took a little side trail to break up the flat walking on the Rails to Trails, and that’s when Christina’s daughter Celeste started jumping in the slushy snow and issued the fateful words: “Well, I’m supposed to get dirty!” Oh, if she only knew what was going to happen in about an hour or two…

The happy times. Please notice how clean Celeste is here...

Dan in the foreground, NSF Jason and Pete in the back.

So, we finally make it out to where we want to be. We’re at the head of the “Cave Bear” Trail, but Christina is worried that her kids won’t be able to make it back if we get too far out. Trying to compromise, I look up the hill and say, “Well, why not head up there and we’ll walk back in the direction of the cars.” We all agree. Cue the “Gilligan’s Island” theme, this is where “The weather started getting rough…” part comes in.

The beginning of the end.

So, we climb to the top of the hill. Or what we thought was the top of the hill. This is where the “Wicked Witch” from “The Wizard of Oz” makes an appearance…it was as though the spirit of Rachel Carson descended upon us, and what was a nice, easy trail rapidly became something … else. We didn’t know what to expect, as this was the “exploration” part of the event.

At the "top."

So, we’re cruising along on a logging trail. Everything is still good. We’re lost, but everything is under control. Everything has gone according to plan.

And then we make the fateful turn off the main road, and started across a former coal field. It should be noted that most of us, at this point, had soaked shoes and cold feet. The temperature was in the 40s, so all the snow was melting, and the ground was muddy.

Notice the coal and orange dirt...and the distinct lack of a trail.

This is where everyone on board the “Minnow” was cursing the Skipper and Gilligan, and yet couldn’t quite mutiny because they were still the best chance of getting to safety. I’ve never felt more empathetic to sit-com characters in my life.

We then came upon some holding ponds.

The ponds...false hope.

“Ah-ha!” I said. “I know these ponds! The trail should cut right on top of the ridge behind them. We can pick it up and we’ll be back in no time.”

Except, in hindsight, these weren’t the ponds I thought they were. Apparently, this one makes about the third or fourth of these 2 pond combos that I’ve seen out there. So, you guessed it, no trail to pick up. We all kind of laugh about it, because it’s adventurous, and that’s what we’re there for.

And then the Wicked Witch struck. There was a huge niche in the ground, and we probably could have made it across if it were all adults. But we have the kids, so we decide to go up the hill and around it. Remember that Rachel Carson hill right behind Sheetz? Think of that. Except muddy, and dead brush that pulls out of the ground when you grab on for safety.

That's a heck of a drop...

We ended up on another mining/logging road, and things were looking good again. But in reality, this was just the eye of the storm. On the horizon, the sky was getting darker with rain/snow clouds, and I issued the following statement: “I think this is looking familiar.” Again, in hindsight, this was equivalent to Frank saying, “This is an easy hike.” But luckily, everyone was still in good spirits, and the humor was flying. I even said, “Man, if I knew it was going to be like this, I wouldn’t have signed up for my own event.”

Not-so-fast Jason helping Celeste across a tiny creek. Notice the dirt factor is getting higher.

We then ended up basically following deer trails or making our own. I knew we were getting closer to the parking lot, but couldn’t imagine why we hadn’t hit one of the biking/hiking trails. And then I spotted one. “We need to go down there!” sounds easy enough, but when the hill is fairly steep, that’s easier said than done.

I eventually became the slide-down-the-trail blazer. I put one foot in front of me, basically sat on the other and slid down the hill. We eventually convinced Cee Cee and Celeste to follow me down.

Rick, Pete and Christina. The children are behind the tree, cursing my existence. And notice my path in the dirt on the right...

More help down the hill.

Oh my, those clothes are DONE.

We eventually came out where Eli climbed the rock triumphantly on the previous Roaring Run hike. For the first time in about 2 hours, I knew EXACTLY where we were.

We started walking out along the Rails to Trails again. Rainbows shined, unicorns greeted us and bluebirds chirped wonderful songs and draped us with wonderfully smelling flowers. OK, not really. But it sure as heck felt like it.

Ah, on the trail to civilization.

Oh, but that’s not the end. No no. About 1/4 of a mile away from the parking lot, it started to rain. Not hard, mind you, but drizzling. Rick yelled back to me, “Thank you for keeping the rain away until now!”

So, we all link up again at the pavilion. I’m was fully expecting to be pummeled by Cee Cee’s and Celeste’s tiny fists, as well as by everyone else’s bigger fists. But everyone was still good natured and laughed about it. Hey, I said we were going to explore…and boy howdy, did we!

So, lessons learned from this hike:
1) When Three says that he doesn’t know where we’re at, he doesn’t. And don’t buy into the “this looks familiar” line.
2) Butt-sliding down hills is remarkably fun. But Christina offered a word of advice for women: “Wear a thong, cause granny panties don’t cut it.”
3) At some point in her life, Celeste will write a book called “Men: Why can’t they ask for directions?”
4) Surely, my status as “tour guide” for MI hiking events is under scrutiny, and could (wisely) be revoked.
5) When things go awry, good friends make bad situations fun.

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