Sunday, April 09, 2006


"Who doesn't like Pirates?" asks Jamie.

Yep. We're a little down about the conclusion of the A&E series "Rollergirls" here at League HQ.

However, thanks to the cleverly placed ad spots during the program and The League's ability to utilize Google, we located our local Rollerderby league to see what all this rollerderby we'd been seeing on TV was really like.

For $10.00 a pop, I figured it was better than spending money on "The Benchwarmers" and absolutely killing my Saturday night. That, and instead of bitching endlessly about how there's nothing to do in Chandler, we up and left Chandler for parts unknown.

So, for $23.00 (I got my tickets online ahead of time with a $1.50 service charge), we ventured forth to check out the April 8th bout of the AZ Rollerderby. The bout was between The Bruisers and the Surly Gurlies. Some debate was had ahead of time as to whether we should cheer for one team over another, followed by which team.

Jamie threw in immediately with the Pirate-themed Surly Gurlies before we'd left the house. I refused to take sides until we got to the match, assuming I'd pick a team before the end of the first half. Probably whomever was losing.

We finally located the much-advertised but never-before-seen Castles and Coasters on our way up the freeway, and also noticed a few other locations which had incorporated "Castle" into their name, not the least of which was "Castle Boutique" which welcomed "Lords and Ladies", leading the League to believe that perhaps the "Castle Boutique" was not a stop-off for kiddies on their way to the fun park.

The sports complex which held the derby also had a curious castle theme, although at least two to three miles away from the amusement park. We arrived half an hour early, said "hello" to some lady on skates in a sort of balloon-like costume, and wandered in to a fairly empty builidng. Live-music was provided by a sort of rock-a-billy/surf rock/punk group called (I think) "Grave Danger". The announcer's audio completely sucked, so I'm still not sure of the name of the band, but I am positive it was not "Great Naked", which is what I THOUGHT he said at first. I have decided that when Steanso and The League finally cut their first album, by GOD, that will be the name.

Upon arriving, I also immediately threw in with the Surly Gurlies. Two factors there. a) PIRATES!!! b) the aptly named "Brickhouse".

The arena was not as seen on Rollergirls. (The TXRD was using one of the spaces at Austin Studios/ aka Robert Mueller airport. Which means that the TXRD's "Thunderdome" may have been paid for by the producers of the show in order to make the program easier to produce.) Instead, AZRD uses an ice rink sans ice. Which basically means a flat, open surface with a taped-off track.

You may notice that NASCAR events are NOT on a flat surface, which keeps cars from flinging off the track at each turn. TXRD also has a concave surface in which to skate, which keeps the players on the track and also makes it plenty exciting as the players smack into the rail, etc.. Jamie pointed out that the pit in the center of the track for TXRD seemed a lot larger than AZRD. Could be. I'm not up to speed on regulation size for rollerderby tracks, but there was enough space left over that I would be uncertain as to why they would not utilize more space for the track if they wanted it.

Anyhoo, prior to the match I was a little concerned about how the players would stay on the track. Answer: the AZRD game appeared to be a bit slower than TXRD, and, yes, players did occasionally go zipping right off the track and into the audience. Which was alternately scary and funny. As I mentioned, it was a hockey rink. Jamie and I were firmly behind the glass, watching from some bar-stools.

Prior to the match, watching a dozen players circling the track to warm up had a pleasing fish-bowl effect. When I am a crazy billionaire super-villain, I shall always have a rollerderby track I can peer out onto from my oversized chair and watch rollerderby girls skating in circles.

Apparently the AZRD is also hitched to the hockey scoreboard in the sports complex. Instead of four fifteen minute quarters, we were treated to three twenty minute periods and two lengthy breaks during which "Grave Danger" would rock out and the many alterna-kids would dash outside for a smoke. We were very confused by the hockey-timing of the game and were getting up to go after the second period, but found it odd so few people were leaving.

The place was probably not sold-out, but it WAS fairly full. And there were a lot of kids. I spent part of teh first period talking to some kid named "Josh" who was probably ten and was clearly now a third wheel since his Scottsdale-y looking Mom had married "Paul". Poor Josh and I were trying to puzzle out the intricacies of the game and his mom kept turning around to tell him to "leave (me) alone". Honestly, Josh was figuring things out better than I was, so I was enjoying talking to him. Although I think he was more interested in the mechanics of the game than girls in pirate and nurse outfits on skates. Ah, youth.

Luckily with the cost of a ticket we received a small program explaining the rules. Which really helped, because the mechanics were slightly different at AZRD than what I'd seen of TXR, and while scoring seemed similar, I lost track of the "Jammer" a lot, and couldn't figure out when each "Jam" was ending.

Our pirate ladies got their asses handed to them, although they did come alive in the 3rd period. They suffered some nasty spills, alot more than the Bruisers, and the poor EMT really earned his dough dashing from girl to girl.

All in all, it was a fun night out. The next match is in May, so I'm hoping Jamie will be up to see the Surly Gurlies take on the Bad News Beaters.

One other thing: There was a fairly professional video crew with a multi-camera system set-up. I don't think it was for Season 2 of Rollergirls, but I am wondering if this isn't going to show on our local cable channels 7 or 9.

Apparently these teams are all over the place. You Leaguers should Google to see if there's a team in your neck of the woods.

Here's a page with an QT of some AZRD action. It, uh, loads automatically, so click at your own peril.

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