Friday, October 31, 2008

Fallout 3 continued initial impressions.

After restarting and recreating my character - Moxie the nerdy, treasure hunting, mechanical repair, and explosives expert - I have gotten myself to a good solid point for really getting into the rest of the game.

A piece of advice for starting - the beginner's guide is helpful. While some games favour well rounded, jack-of-all-trades characters it seems like Fallout 3 is a specialist based game. I really enjoy being able to have a character that has "useless" skills and still be rewarded for using them. In Elder Scrolls: Oblivion the main skill sets I chose - Speech and Alchemy - weren't particularly useful or helpful. I take that back - alchemy was useful for crafting some gnarly poisons. In Fallout 3 speech and a higher charisma can unlock dialogue threads and if used successfully award XP. I also chose the skill "Child at Heart" - unlocks dialogue options with NPC children - because I was hoping I could take care of a deceased NPC's kid. I thought about reloading the prior save to choose a different skill but I'm going to keep "Child at Heart". One kid gave me the combination to her Dad's safe. Kids say the darndest things.

I really enjoy the survival horror aspects of the game as well. Combat - depending on the critter - is pretty harrowing at times. Two pieces of advice:
  1. Learn to use the targetting system ASAP.
  2. Don't waste ammunition on insects. Use a melee weapon.

I also unlocked a house to use as a base of operations and am probably going to spend the next block of game time trying to get enough funding to furnish the place. It's just nice to have place to stash equipment I don't want to sell.

Other cool things about Fallout 3:

NPCs have different personalities and different voices. If you've played Oblivion for any length of time then you know how boring/annoying it became to hear the same three or four voice actors for every character.

Crap got to go to work. More ranting later.

Have a good weekend. Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Initial squeeing (aka enthusiastic) impressions of Fallout 3.

Here's why I'm wetting myself and almost wrote Fallout 3 related answers all over my Western Civ II test:

An RPG from the makers of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion set in a post-apocalyptic Washington, DC.


Oh yeah and the load times that plagued ES: O are virtually nil in Fallout 3.  I've only been able to play for a few hours last night and plan to restart when I get play tonight.  It looks like I'm gonna have to reorganize my skill points.  I checked the beginner's guide and I think my classic thief/nerd/hacker/sniper/treasure hunter is going to do a lot better in this game than in Oblivion.  One aspect I really dig is that a higher intelligence gives all of your skills a boost.  Of course if I wanted to play some kind of dreadnought I could do that too.

Another fun thing about Fallout 3 it is going to be the perfect game to listen to the Six-String Samurai soundtrack while playing.  Boogie boogie on the beach indeed.

Once the initial pants-wetting is over I will attempt to give Fallout 3 a more in-depth review.  

"Goodnight America and good luck."


I was joking that the player character's father in the game sounded like Liam Neeson - well mocking actually - "Lookit me,  I'm your father, oh oh oh, I sound like a Liam Neeson knock-off, oh oh oh." actually is Liam Neeson.

and Ron Perlman as the narrator - doing a much better job than he did in the Conan game...
and Malcolm McDowell is the voice of the President

So, apologies gentlemen.  Awesome work.  

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Normally lolspeak makes want to gouge out my eyes but...

Thanks to Amanda for pointing this out.  We're both Greek history/mythology fans so this is particularly amusing.

LOLcat Odyssey:

I can has
 song story of teh rox0r fer srsly, Odiseos. He liek went to teh bases of Troi fer pwnage and super LOLz. Den teh Ceiling Cat, Poseiden put sme srs pwnage on him and his kittehs. AND FER TEN YRS ZOMG!!! he did faceplants wit Calypso lolz. kthxbai.

Odiseos maded Telemachus but no one cared.

Wen teh pwnage of Troi was over srsly, Odiseos and his kittehs took teh botes wit der monees an der cheezburgers and getted teh fuck outta der. And tehy camed to teh most doped up homecats yous eva seen. Tehy sitted and eated teh lotus and his kittehs says "i can has more speshal brownies? kthx." But Odiseos says "NOES!!! only cheezburgers" Soes Odiseos and his kittehs getted on teh botes wit teh munchies nd left to one-eye cat wit srs munchies but not fer cheezburgers.

Tehy getted to teh gynormus one-eye cat caev nd seed free goats and cheezburgers!! Nd Odiseos nd his kittehs got fat on free food. But tehn wen one-eye cat come and says "I can iz H4XOR!!1

WTF, whoevas yous iz." Tehn teh gynormus one-eye caev cat wuz angry. Den, two of Odiseos's d00dz in teh caev R offd. Fall down, go boom! d00dz byebye. All kittehs and Odiseos cry'n'cry. Lowdst evah cry'n'cry. One-eye caev cat says "I can haz sleep now kthnx" and Odiseos goes "Oh snap" nd saez "WTF!! we r PWNZ0R his face." While he goz sleep he pwns him wit a hotted nail threw teh face. So he no seez (OH NOES!!). So teh kittehs looked and sez ewwz cuz was gross. But tehn one-eye cat wuz mad and want go smash but cnt seez. Nd Odiseos wuz peacing out wen one-eye cat screamed "WHOSE IZ U!!??!?" Odiseos saez "I is no-cat" Wen he getted away from teh base he saed "LOLZ!! I's iz rly Odiseos, maded by Laertes, pwner of Ithaca, and now PWNZ0R OF UR FACE, bitch" And den it was on. And Ceiling Cat Poseiden wuz mad. Liek srsly mad. Will b imprtnt laetr cuz kittehs DO NOT WANT get wet.

Nd tehy sailded to Aiaia (fer reels Aiaia, datz teh way tehy saez it). So tehy getted off teh botes looking fer mre cheezburgers and splits in tooz. Teh half not wit Odiseos seez a house and tehyz get happee and tehy seez a pretty ladi, and tehyz get rly happee (cuz they has seez no ladies on teh botes... u can imagine tehy get bored wit each other). But tehn Circe-ladi saez "I can has cheezburgers" and turns dem to pigs. But Odiseos on otehr part of island no noes dat his kittehs in troubelz. Ceiling Cat Hermes comez and says "OH HAI" and den Odiseos noes his kittehs in troubelz. He taeks teh potion from teh Ceiling Cat nd goez to Circe's house. Tehn Circe trys to cast spell on Odiseos, but he has teh potion. Dis maeks Circe hot. And tehy stay fer a year, make faceplant (YES!)... and teh pigs turn back to kittehs. After a yr Circe saez "Y yous still heer? Yous eated all mah cheezburgers. GTFO!!! kthxbai." Nd tehy left.

So tehy piled into teh ROFLcopter botes nd sailed to BasementCatPlace to speak to Tyraesus cuz tehy was losted and he noes teh way. But hiz mommy wuz der first nd he saed "Goez away now, Iz is not Oedipus." Nd she cry'n'cry but not loudest evah. Tyraseus say "OH HAI, you can has go home now after TEN YRS." Nd Odiseous saez "Dat SUX0RS more tehn ur mom." And Tyraseus sayz "Who SUX0RS less tehn Penelope." Nd if teh d00d wuznt ded, Odiseos would have offd him right tehre. 

Instead, Odiseos seez his d00dz frum Troi nd tehy cryun liek teh baybeez cuz deys ded nd no can haz cheezburgers n e more. Tehn, Odiseos seez won kitteh who push bolder up hill but no can has rest 4 bolder roll to bottom b 4 reach top nd dat sux0rs. Tehre wuz also dis cat who goes 'I can haz cheezburger?' and seez cheezburger but no can has, nd dat srsly suckin lyke a dai wit no canopener.

Cuz BasmentCatPlace wuz sux0rs, Odiseos nd hiz kittehs sez kthnxbai nd go back to seksy Circe-ladi, but she NO WANT! Soes tehy get mor direcshons frum her and she warns tehm of monsters dat et n00bs fer alwayz, nd dey GTFO. Bye-bye Aiaia. Stoopid name n e wayz.

On teh botes Ceiling Cats Poseiden nd Helios haz maked wind, nd maked a sobad storm cam up. Teh ROFLcopter was broken to pieces. Teh kittehs wuz fraidys. Tehy all skeered coz kittehs iz not liek get wet. Tehy even tossn tehy cookies fer bettar floating...but tehy drownded—kthnxbai! But Odiseos no drownded cuz he grabbed plank nd Ceiling Cats not ded him. Tehy sends him safe to home of Calypso. Tehre tehy maek seksy-tiem fer eight yrs. Srsly, dat lotsa seksy-tiem.

After eight yrs, Grey-furred Ceiling Cat Atehna feelz rly fer srsly bad. She liek Odiseos but not liek Calypso. She tell her dadda head Ceiling Cat Zoos nd askz him to let teh d00d go. Nd Zoos fixs things good. Ceiling Cat will giv Odiseos teh royal boot, nd he be awai! Yay! kthnxbai! But Ceiling Cat Poseiden no good... want pwn4age liek teh kittehs! Nd he maked wind nd sobad storm. But Odiseos sez, "Dis Ceiling Cat no can haz imajinashon" nd floats on wood of wuz-bote to island of Phaishya. Tehre he tell whole storie wit no bafroom brake. Dis maek Phaisya cats impressed nd tehy halp Odiseos go home. Yay! Odiseos #1! Ceiling Cat Atehna #1! Ceiling Cat Poseiden byebye!

Nd wen Odiseos getted back to teh base of Ithaca, Penelope was wit teh suitor-cats and tryin to get tehm to shoot Odiseos' bow. But teh suitor-cats were teh n00b4ge nd couldnt pwnz0r wit teh arrows like Odiseos could. Odiseos is hidin wit pig kitteh Eurmaus so he can get into teh palace nd kill some d00ds nd make their frends cry'n'cry. So Odiseos plotted to off teh n00bs so he could do faceplants wit Penelope nd Telemachus could stop cry'n'cry about his dadda.

So wen teh tiem was right Odiseos nd Telemachus taked teh pwnz0r swords nd started to kill teh d00dz. Nd all teh suitor cats were liek "WE CAN NEVER HAS CHEEZBURGER AGAIN ZOMG." Nd den teh mammas nd daddas of teh suitor cats caem nd were liek "WTF, our sons can never has cheezburger again!!! Nd now we can never eat cheezburger again bc we gonna cry'n'cry liek 4EVA! We can neva be happee nd our kittehs will always b hongry." But tehy ddnt noe that Odiseos, teh pwn4ge, wuz teh one who killed tehir kittehs. Nd den Grey-furred Ceiling Cat Atehna taked away Odiseos' disguise nd teh suitor-parent cats were fraid. Tehy all got in tehir ROFLcopters nd went away and were liek "We can has go now..... KTHXBAI!!!"

But Penelope was liek "CANT BELIVE IT ODISEOS, liek who teh Basement Cat r u?" Odiseos was liek "OH HAI!!!1 I'm back, member me!?" Den she was liek "I can has you prove ur liek who yous sayz yous is?" Nd he's liek "I builded our bed in teh middle of teh base out of teh tree you climbed up once." Nd she was liek "OH HAI!!!!" Nd tehy did faceplants for long tiem. KTHXBAI!!!1111oneo

Saint's Row 2 (2008)

Saint's Row 2 was fun for the week I played it.  I mostly just drove around and played side missions and built up my character.  This is what I enjoy doing in sandbox games anyway so I was content.  The side missions are genuinely enjoyable though fairly generic: racing, combat, step and fetch missions.  One particular side mission: The Septic Avenger was particularly appealing. In this mission you drive around in a sewage truck spraying shit on buildings and people in order to destroy property value.  

I dipped my toe into the actual story missions: one involved escaping from prison, one involved driving from point A to point B, and one involved busting into the courthouse and rescuing a character from the first game.  I look forward to continuing the story when I pick the game up again but am not expecting any real surprises.

The most impressive feature of Saint's Row 2 is the level of character customization available.  You can choose: race, sex, body type, tweak all the levels of body type, age, voice, insults and compliments the character uses, hair, etc., etc., etc.  My first character was an extremely over weight and heavily muscled older guy with an English accent - basically a bigger, meaner Bob Hoskins.  I got sick of him and created a female character - this time basically a bigger, meaner Margaret Cho with a really kick-ass red and black pompadour Morrissey would be jealous of.

One side note about character customization - attn: all games featuring character customization - add scars.  Yes, Mass Effect had some scarification but only The Godfather has allowed me to make a truly horrific, scarred monster of a character.  My guy looked like Marv. It was awesome.  My Margaret Cho knock off would be awesome covered in scars.  Designers take note.  Add it to the list.

As far as graphics and game play goes Saint's Row 2 looks and plays perfectly reasonable.  It's not the most gorgeous game I've ever seen but I was having too much fun to piss and moan about the graphics.  If you played any sandbox game then you will be familiar with the controls.  If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Saint's Row 2 is a perfectly reasonable way to spend time gaming.  It's just unfortunate that it came out while I am saving money for Fallout 3.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apologies for the construction.

I am tinkering with layout again. Won't be anything drastic. Well, hopefully it won't be anything drastic. Bear with me and thank you for your patience. As always comments and input are welcome.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Out of the pan and into the fryer.

I am fixin to reckon a borderline insane cooking idea. Top Secret. Hush hush. If I survive I will let you how it turns out.

This is truly the sandwich of a warrior.

There are two things in this world guaranteed to make me happy: kittens and a mighty sandwich.

Yesterday we bought a binder for recipes and assorted kitchen mumbo jumbo. It has kittens on it. We also wanted meatball subs...not made from kittens. We were going to go to a local deli that has pretty solid subs - for Texas - but then I thought, "Why not make them myself?"

I wish I had taken some pictures of the meatball subs but alas there are none. Here's the general gist:

  1. Make meatballs. Personally I like to keep it fairly simple - meat, egg, breadcrumbs, kosher salt, pepper, paprika, diced onion, thyme, and a touch of the chiles. I prefer meatballs to be about the size of golf balls.
  2. A tomato sauce based around sauteed onions, garlic, roasted red peppers, chile, and fresh tomato. We used Newman's jarred sauce and a can of sauce to give it added sauciness.
  3. Bake meatballs. Construct sauce.
  4. Combine meatballs and sauce. Turn to low heat and prepare bread. I suggest getting a big ass loaf of Italian white bread. French bread is all well and good if you want to cut up your mouth and get shards of crust jammed into your gums. Heat oven to about 400 degrees. Have you made garlic bread before? No? Simple, butter the shit out of the bread (please remember to cut the bread open first) and liberally apply garlic powder or garlic paste if you have it. Toss this in the oven and cook just until the butter melts.
  5. So far so good? Here comes the hard part. Take the bread out of the oven. Spoon meatballs and sauce onto the bread. Put mozzarella (shredded) all over everything. I sprinkled Italian parsley on to the cheese as well but this is at your discretion. Put everything back in the oven. Wait until the cheese is melty and awesome - estimated 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and allow everything to cool. You will suffer horrible burns in your mouth if you try to eat something that came out of a 400 degree oven. Honest.
  7. Prepare to wage total war on sandwich. I recommend putting on feeding pants or not wearing pants at all. Focus chi. You will not fear. Fear is the mind killer.
  8. Unhinge jaw. Commence feeding.

All jesting aside this is a absurdly cheap, easy meal to make and if you make a big batch of meatballs and sauce you can feed on it for awhile. While eating leftovers today I began thinking of other types of meatballs I could make. Let me know if you have any favorites.

Guy Ritchie directs Sherlock Holmes movie...

with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson?

Nani desu-ka?

Wait. So...hmmm...I could see Jude Law as Holmes and Ray Winstone as Watson but...

Oh yeah, hey Jude Law - Shia wants his 'stache back.

Fool's Gold (2008) dir. Andy Tennant

Yeah. We downloaded this on a Sunday afternoon because there wasn't anything good on Oxygen or HGTV.

Fool's Gold is not a bad movie - a la Six Days Seven Nights - when the chips are down. Senor "No shirt" Matthew McConaughey doesn't wear a shirt or shoes for most of the movie. You know something? If I was built like him I wouldn't wear a shirt either so there. Kate Hudson is adorable and pretty scrappy - she hits a guy in the crotch with a shovel. This is one of those movies where the cast is just having fun. Shit, hanging out in the Caribbean on yachts and drinking and diving and generally yukking it up? Sign me up.

It really is a lot better than it has any right to be though I wish there were sharks. Into the Blue had sharks and Jessica Alba. Oh yeah and Kate Hudson hits a guy in the crotch with a shovel.

Cold Creek Manor (2003) dir Mike Figgis

Cold Creek Manor is an excellent example of why XBOX 360 Video Marketplace needs to have more coherent information in their movie descriptions. For example, if I had known that the movie had Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Dorff, and Juliette Lewis in it I never would have watched it.

I don't want to say that Cold Creek Manor was terrible but y'know what? It wasn't even bad enough to be terrible. Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Stormy Monday) knows how to make a movie look pretty and get halfway decent performances out of his actors. Dennis Quaid is an actor I like and I don't think he gets a fair shake most of the time. Sharon Stone, meh, I like her in Casino. Stephen Dorff kind of rules. Juliette Lewis is an actress I wish Shia LaBeef would roll his SUV over. On the upside - and I do not support, condone, or advise domestic violence - Stephen Dorff straight up decks Juliette Lewis. Dennis Quaid decks Sharon Stone but accidentally and for a tension relieving laugh. Wow...that sounds terrible.

The whole premise is Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone are New Yorkers who move their family to Upstate and have a terrible time with the locals (Dorff and Lewis). There's some...I dunno...bullshit about slaughterhouses and the "Devil's Throat" and "Hammerhand" and murder and is it a ghost story? is it a thriller? is it a mystery? is anything going to happen? by the time anything happens am I going to care? when will it end? will stephen dorff fall through the window foreshadowed in the beginning of the movie? is there more popcorn? am I really hungry or just bored hungry?

Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008) XBOX360 Double Helix Games

If you're a fan of the Silent Hill series then you'll enjoy the newest installment. If you're not then you might want to skip Silent Hill: Homecoming.

The good:
  1. As sick as it sounds - it's nice to be back in Silent Hill. The place still looks like an ashen wasteland. When the claxons ring I still get a chill knowing that the whole place is going to become an industrial nightmare within moments.
  2. The monster design is potentially creepier than any of the Silent Hill series. Yes, your favorites are back but the bosses are turned up to eleven. I think I said, "Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me." when I confronted the third boss. That was one of the better boss fights I've played in a long time.
  3. Boss fights. I can't remember the last time I had a good solid boss fight outside of a RPG. While the fights in SH:H aren't particularly difficult they definitely have the, "What the Hell am I supposed to do now?" factor.
  4. Industrial hell looks awesome on the next-gen system. Double Helix Games went kind of beserk designing the Hell levels, cheers to you guys.

The bad:

  1. Welcome to Silent Hill where the air is filled with grey dust, horrible beasties want to make your insides on the outside, and the camera control stills sucks. While yes it is a bit better - the right analog controls the camera like any other game of its ilk - the camera moves like a GTA VC yacht. I also had trouble with the pitch - with or without an inverted Y-axis. For some reason the camera work was slow and awkward while moving around and trying to survey the environment but was convulsive during combat.
  2. Combat. Dear anyone who makes a Silent Hill game, every game in the series has had crappy combat control. You should know this. If you know this then why does it still suck? There were moments when I ducked or dodged correctly and either I was hit or not. In SH:H the protagonist is a soldier - hence Homecoming - so you'd think he would've received some military training. Maybe it was it was the Special Olympics Brigade. I eventually just said the hell with it and ran past monsters and saved ammunition for boss fights.
  3. Level design. Perhaps it's because this is the fifth time I've been to Silent Hill but I got bored after one night of running through the same halls and corridors trying to find a door that actually opens and isn't locked or jammed.
  4. My number one complaint - even if it's number four on here - Silent Hill: Homecoming your puzzles are terrible. I realize that a majority of people in this world have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time but come on...seriously? Just because shifting around some tiles to make a picture might tax the minds of mouth breathers every where doesn't mean you have to dumb down the game. Why didn't you design a dual difficulty like in the old Silent Hill title (2 or 3 I can't remember now)? You have one difficulty for monsters and one for puzzles. As it stands Professor Layton wouldn't even wipe his nose with these "puzzles".

When all is said and done and all bitching aside - it's a Silent Hill title and it's October. I wanted something scary/creepy to play and SH:H worked out just fine to fill the slot. Plus I needed something to distract me from the waiting for Fallout 3.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"With shovels and rakes and other implements of dee-struction."

I don't know about you but growing up there was the one song that was played on Thanksgiving - either by family or by your local NPR station. Hell, it's the only Thanksgiving song. I listen to this song a lot more than Thanksgiving comes around. I quote this song fortnightly.

Maybe it's bein' a Yankee - borderline New Englander that is - but a lot of people I know don't get the joke. Alice's Restaurant is the perfect example of Yankee dry wit. You laugh until you realize the joke and realize that it ain't funny at all, it's just honest.

When all is said and done I gotta say that I'm proud of being a member of the "Group W Bench".

Friday, October 10, 2008

Josh Brolin to be Jonah Hex? Dude! Sweet!

Jonah Hex = awesome.
Josh Brolin = awesome.
Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex = is anything allowed to be that awesome?

I really dig Jonah Hex but then again I'm a sucker for Weird Westerns. More as news comes out.

Smug self satisfaction: I posted about this Jonah Hex movie last August.

A new incarnation of "V" - effing sweet!

I was a little kid when V was on the air but my grandpa let me watch it and it was awesome. Aliens invade Earth and take over and no one really cares except for some freedom fighters. Dude I was a freedom fighter for Halloween a million years ago.

Looks like Warner Brothers is going to be starting a new part. As long as it's not on the Sci-Fi Channel it should be pretty awesome.

Pinche mathematicos y Friday update.

It's a good thing my areas of expertise are History and English because I can barely manage a D in math. On the upside I am now doing financial math so it makes sense - like I joke, "As long as there is a dollar sign involved I can figure it out."

Otherwise classes are going well. American History is trucking along - hopefully we'll get past the American Revolution soon. I've never been a big fan of the Founding Fathers and birth of our Nation, etc., etc., etc., I've never really had much interest in it. I think my interests lay more along the lines of the Age of Exploration and misc. military history but we'll see where my studies take me.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Roller Derby paper. Part 1(?)

21st Century Calamity Janes: Women of the Roller Derby Revival

While living in Austin, Texas during the early aughts I saw ads in the Austin Chronicle for women’s roller derby. I had some vague memories rattling around of watching derby on UHF while growing up – primarily women on roller skates in hot pants clothes-lining one another. I shrugged off the idea of going to check it out, figuring that it was some kind of Austin hipster flash in the pan. Over time a number of friends told me I had to attend a bout, “Dude! It’s so awesome! Hot chicks on skates beat the shit out of one another! Dude, it rules!” What could I say? That kind of eloquence appealed to the baser instincts of my nature. A group of us went and sucked down Lone Star and “WOO’d!” enthusiastically. Afterwards we all agreed that an evening attending the roller derby “kicked ass”. That was the extent of my experience with the sport until 2008.

My burgeoning interest in modern feminism led me to wonder, “What kind of women join roller derby?” Are the participants escapees from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!? I began my investigation of women’s roller derby with skewed misconceptions, a questionnaire, and complete ignorance of the sport. As responses came rolling in from across the United States I quickly learned the truth about the derby subculture. My assumptions about the game and the women involved were wrong. Women’s roller derby is a serious sport, not some tramped up skate party. The theatrics I grew up watching were a thing of the past. There is not a typical woman who becomes a “derby girl”. Involvement is not a passing fancy or whim – these women give one hundred percent. They often pay for their own equipment, training, and more for the love of the game. Respondents also spoke ardently about the camaraderie surrounding roller derby.

My first order of business was to develop an understanding of roller derby’s fundamental rules. Chica Loca provided an excellent synopsis:

Basically, there are two teams of five chicks on the track during each two minute jam. Each team has one scoring position called a jammer, one pivot, and three blockers. The pivots and blockers form what we call a pack. The pack starts out twenty feet ahead of the jammers and start sprinting at the first whistle blast. The jammers start sprinting a few seconds later, at the second whistle blast. The jammers have to break through the pack and skate another lap before they start scoring points. On a jammer’s second and future trips through, she gets a point for every opponent she passes. The blockers and pivots try to stop the opposing jammer from getting through, while assisting their own jammer.1

This makes for a fast and furious game that takes practice to be able to follow, let alone participate. Derby moves faster than any other sport I’ve watched and is far more exhilarating. “This is a sport of skill [and] strategy where you’re playing offense and defense at the same time.”2 The amount of training and athletic ability required is astounding and derby is a full contact sport. One woman suffered a knee injury that ended her derby career and still affects her today. Broken bones – wrists, ankles, and ribs – are frighteningly common. Their equipment consists of helmets, pads, skates, and attitude.

With a hard knock sport like roller derby player stereotypes abound: “it’s just a bunch of women in short skirts beating each other up”3, heavily tattooed women as likely to punch you as kiss you, amazons built like brick outhouses, lot lizards, rockabilly barmaids, juvenile delinquents, hair pulling lesbians, and assorted good girls gone bad. Derby girls adopt personas that play off these stereotypes with noms de guerre like: Seoul Crusher, Starr Doom, Texas Chainsaw Sassacre, Chica Loca, Scrappy Do, and Madame Furie. How and why they choose these personas will be a topic to explore at a later time. The women I interviewed haven’t leapt off some Grindhouse screen. Their backgrounds run the gamut: business women, teachers, blue collar workers, waitresses, librarians, housewives, mothers, and more. There are just as many reasons why they joined derby. Some had seen the A&E reality television show Roller Girls and been inspired. Some felt it was “a cool, edgy thing to do”4. Others joined simply because they wanted to, because they wanted to challenge themselves. One woman responded, “It makes your butt go back to where it was before kids!”5

The strongest response I received was about the intense camaraderie among these women. What surprised me is that this did not take the form of the standard underground culture “us vs them” punk mentality. Derby certainly seems to have the punk aspect of members being outside societal norms and of finding a place to relax with a group of people they could be themselves around6. Seoul Crusher responded to the questionnaire:

I think as women sometimes we are hard on ourselves on what we think a woman should be from our views of magazines and television but when you are surrounded by so many different women who choose a crazy sport like roller derby it’s amazing how that can boost your self confidence in yourself and remind you that you are just like every other woman and no different. I’ve never been part of a team sport before roller derby so it’s neat how you feel like you belong almost immediately.7

When I asked the women if roller derby was a phase they said no. Many members of underground subcultures reach a point where the put away the trappings, wear long sleeves to cover tattoos, and blend into accepted culture. While not all the women were still involved with derby they maintain friendships with former teammates, follow league rankings, and bust out the skates more often than not. A common sentiment was, “I think I sweated and worked my ass off too hard to say this was a little hobby I picked up then quit.8

After interviewing these women I have much greater respect and appreciation for the sport and the women involved. The “you don’t have to be [any] kind of type to join roller derby”9 vibe is impressive. Scrappy Do – jammer and blocker – stands five feet tall. A number of the women were surprised by their athletic abilities once they joined. Some hadn’t put on skates since they were children and some had never donned skates before. They aren’t stereotypical athletes and certainly not average women. Unlike many other subcultures, women’s roller derby is open to anyone willing to give it their all.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Yay cat pictures!

From Blogger Pictures

You can see the busted kitchen table behind George (left) & Moxie (right).

From Blogger Pictures
"You're next!"

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

Moxie does this all the time. Yes it's cute but when it's 3am and you have a kitten sucking on your ear - noisily - it's not so cute in the least.

What do I do with a broken kitchen table, a wire rack, and too many books?

Answer: Mcguyver that shit.

The kitchen table's legs were pretty much torn off in the move and I've been at a loss on how to fix it. While I was going to sleep the other night I had one of those, "Huh, I wonder if..."

Y'know - it's rare - but sometimes I do have moments of smartness. It worked and in all honesty I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. The whole set up is astoundingly solid.

Amanda laughed because we are getting to the point that we can use books and bookcases as construction materials.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What's goin' on Schenectady?

People here in Texas don't believe you exist but I do.

"Classic" HYR finds:

Not that I really needed cheering up but I was cleaning up files on my laptop and found these gems:

Ah, memories.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix site has trailers!

Woo! The Puzzle Quest: Galactrix site is finally up and has trailers and assorted goodness. We can't wait. This is one game that I am chomping at the bit to play. Dear D3 please release this sooner than later.

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