February 28, 2009. 5.47pm. Hollywood, CA. Octo! Octo! Octo! Thanks to the astonishing reproductive skillz of undercapitalized but astonishingly fecund Octo-Mom Nadya Suleman, SoCal is agog over all things octopodic and/or numbered eight. The price of coctel del pulpo at local food jobbers has topped $20/lb. The octopus has replaced the Chihuahua as the cool new pet to carry around in your purse. The most common horrible name with which rich yuppies are saddling their poor children is now “Octavian.” Area doctors have renamed the dreaded kissing disease “octonucleosis”. And if you want to make a reservation for a party of eight at a local restaurant, brother, then you best have the patience to wait til 2011.
6.17pm. And what in living hell does this have to do with roller derby, you may ask? Fuckin’ everything is your answer. Specifically, tonight’s delectable matchup between two new(-ish) sides will take place at a Doll Factory laden with octo-themed references to the latest hip new trend. DF, for one, is showing up prepared. Quick check of the wardrobe before departure: fun octopus hat (no, not some BS novelty like this, I mean a real, recently deceased octopus on my goddamned head); baby-tee short enough to show off my lower-back tat in the likeness of Octo-Mom herself, surrounded by hearts; and eau du poulpe cologne (it’s made with bits of real octopus so you know it’s good). DF smells so bad, but he looks oh so good. Ready now for some hot girl-on-girl action!
6.47pm. For those of you who have termed my claim that tonight’s bout will be octo-themed less than credible (or, in LaVerne’s case, “a bizarre fabrication”), allow me to rebut thusly. You will please note that the skaters in tonight’s game are all female—the exact same gender as Octo-Mom herself! Moreover, tonight’s bout will last for four twelve-minute quarters—or forty-eight total minutes! Clearly, the evidence is overwhelming.
7.14pm. Historical F-town, LA, CA. Ahem. Amid the pulsating octo-fest that is the Doll Factory, DF pauses to contemplate the upcoming matchup. Tonight’s match bears the particular titillation possessed by unknown quantities. Both teams are making their regular-season debuts, though we’ve seen them in other settings before. You will recall the Varsity Brawlers from their post-season debut late last year, though the intervening months of practice have likely hardened them into a more formidable foe that fell to the Fight Crew back in October. The Swarm (presumably named after a swarm of octopi) has never competed before, but if you think you’ve seen these gals before, you’re not having some kind of weird hallucination (at least not for that reason). The Swarm is the banked-track incarnation of the San Diego Derby Dolls, featuring the same stalwarts who graced the Doll Factory twice last year, though they’re joined now by derby legends Trish the Dish (unfortunately out with injury this eve) and Ivanna S. Pankin.
7.37pm. As DF sips a cocktail of octopus juice and crème de menthe, the skate-outs take place, and the crowd’s regionalist chauvinism emerges: thund’rous cheers greet the VBs, while the reception for the Swarm is decidedly more lukewarm. There is more than a bit of history here: derby fans whose medium-term memories are not fully ravaged (i.e., about half them) will recall that nearly a year ago, an inter-doll north-south bout resulted in a pornographic blowout in favor of las angelinas. Think this necessarily suggests forthcoming dominance by VBs over the Swarm tonite? Well, you better think again, kemosabe. The name of the game in derby is experience, and the Swarm has much more of that now than they did those long ten months ago. Moreover, the VBs feature a number of hi-quality vets, but their ranks consist mostly of relative newbies, unlike the well-seasoned Ri-ettes who delivered last year’s beatdown. Point being: it’s anyone’s game. Let’s watch, shall we?
7.58pm. Kick out the jams, motherfuckers! Early signs are all Brawlers. Mickispeedia leads off for LA, and appears to have cashed in on the promise she showed during last October’s Babydoll Brawl, while Long Island Lolita’s veteran wiles take her through the Swarm’s … um … swarm of blockers with relative ease.
8.11pm. Just as it appears that LA may roll over SD, Bonnie D. Stroir and the heretofore unheard of Sarkastika each get in the groove. The next ten or so jams are like a series of body blows: Bonnie lands a right to the body—5 points; Sarkastika follows with a left jab to the breadbasket—4 points, then follows with a right hook to the ol’ moneymaker—8 points. Now the Swarm has the Brawlers on the ropes, and following a furious BdS/SkA fists-of-fury flurry halfway through the second quarter, the San Diego-ans have erased the their opponents’ early lead and then some, amassing a commanding 44-14 lead.
8.29pm. Proffered analogy that is more likely than not total bullshit, or if not that then at least not particularly insightful: It is said in tennis that it’s easy to hit the ball hard, and it’s easy to hit the ball accurately, but that the real trick of the game is to hit the ball hard and accurately. Watching the Swarm score with relative ease on the Brawlers, DF posits a derby comparison. It seems relatively easy for blockers to skate fast, and not particularly difficult for them to skate in an organized pack, but to skate both quickly and with discipline—that’s the rub. And it’s the Swarm’s blockers’ impressive ability to skate both fast and with organization that seems to be giving them a big and growing edge over the VBs tonite.
8.38pm. Woof. Halftime rolls around and the Swarm has made a very compelling statement. And that statement is that they kick ass. Swarm 71, Brawlers 14. Ouch. SD’s headline jammer is Sarkastika, who has racked 30 points already, which has to be some kind of record, but is an avaricious and goddamned impressive one-half haul, regardless. (NB: as a more learned derby fan than DF pointed out, Sarkastika is not a mysterious and outrageously talented newbie, but actually SDDD stalwart Steely Jan with a new—though far less amusing—name.)
8.46pm. Ah, the sensual pleasures of wandering ‘round the Doll Factory at halftime. It’s been an hour since DF ate, so no wonder I’m starving. DF saunters to his beloved Hot Dog on a Stick stand to feast on some of the octo-delicacies they’re offering for this night only. “One octopus-flavored corn dog, please!” No good, eh? “Then I’ll just go with a breaded tentacle on a stick, thanks.” Hm. I’ll take “what the living shit are you talking about, guy?” to mean all the other fans got to the aforementioned octo-deliciacies first. Oh well, I’ll just have the Octo-Mom special: eight sweet, sweet corn dogs. Oct-acular!
9.06pm. The second half is on and the action resumes, fast and furious. Tonight’s Violentest Hit of the Bout® features the VB’s Vagillante, who is knocked down at turn two and careens head-first and at full speed into a rail. The crunching sound can be heard all the way in the media skybox. Hideous visions of spinal cord injuries dance in DF’s head, but then Vag is up and skating, and apparently just fine. Yikes, that’s one tough mamacita. If DF had suffered that kind of injury, DF would have cried even more than he did during last night’s Love Story/The Notebook double feature.
9.17pm. To liven up the blowout, DF challenges other residents of the media skybox to join him in the Octo-Mom Drinking Game. The rules are: drink eight beers in eight minutes—one for each of Nadya’s drug-induced freak-babies. I’ll take those raised eyebrows and floorward glances from my skybox compatriots as signs that they’re not man enough to step up to the challenge. DF isn’t afraid to go solo, and after drinking the requisite eight beers in eight minutes, he barfs eight times to hit a rare and much-coveted trifecta. Oct-astic!
9.40pm. The Brawlers of the second half look unrecognizably better than they did in the first stanza, and over the last twenty-four minutes of regulation the teams play to a relative stalemate. Still, it’s not enough to make the game particularly close, and as the bout draws to a conclusion, Taryn Hearts racks four points to bring the Swarm’s total to a lusty and well-rounded 100, exacting a measure of revenge for LA’s century-mark beatdown of SDDD last April.
9.44pm. But we’re not quite done. In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the teams could well have let the game clock expire, but they line up at the finish instead. While the Swarm’s Isabelle Ringer initially seems to have the upper hand, the Brawlers’ Long Island Lolita storms back into the lead, and heroically grabs five points as time runs out. The last jam is—by all skaters—an object lesson in tenacity in the face of lost causes that would please St. Jude down to the soles of his sandals, and the crowd (none of whom, it should be said, left early—which every other Losanjealous sports crowd does when the result is no longer in doubt) justly rewards the skaters for their heart with full-blooded cheers.
10.03pm. Ah, the bittersweetness of another derby bout having come and gone. Time now to return to chez DF, watch some reruns of Eight is Enough, and send Octo-Mom a text message every eight minutes. Tonight’s tussle may have been a blowout, but it made for an octo-riffic evening, and whetted the appetite for further intrigue throughout the 2009 Derby Dolls season. Can the Swarm continue to sweep aside opponents with the same dominant insouciance as they did the Brawlers? Will the VBs take the efficacious form they showed in tonight’s second half into future contests? DF is going to take a break for a while (and perhaps go to therapy to get over this crippling octo-bsession), but he’ll see all y’all on March 28 when the Swarm reconvene to battle the Fight Crew.
Photos & credits:
1. Steely looks and variegated fishnets in the pre-jam line-up
2. Scrums are for rugby, Swarm ladies; this is roller derby
3. Eire Vengeance expresses pre-game jubilance; Pushy and Vagillante are significantly less enthused
4. Dude, this jam is too trippy. I’m freakin’ out!
5. Picture in picture: a contemplative moment, featuring Micki Dagger, Kiki Diazz, Slamurai, and Sarkastika
6. Skaters go flying; Kiki Diazz escapes carnage; D-Mann has no objection
7. Bloody foes to bosom friends: post game celebratory unity
All photos (C) 2009 by Charlie Chu/Shutterthug. All rights reserved by author.
Complaints and compliments, corrections and cunctations are welcome at df at losanjealous dot com. You are graciously permitted to follow DF’s writing re derby and, on occasion, other things here. If there is anything accurate and/or remotely insightful herein, it’s likely thanks to AZRD’s Dee Vicious, who patiently answered all the inane derby-related questions DF posed to her last Saturday in the press box. Say what you will about Canadians—some of them are all right.