About This Blog

A thousand times I have thought to keep a blog, but I have never had a single direction that I wished to take it. I have owned this domain for years for that purpose, and finally, I’m like “fuck it.” It started off as a (ridiculously detailed) daily journal of what 33 days in India was like for a tattooed, strange, white woman traveling alone. Now, I will add to it things I feel like writing and categorize them, if anyone is actually looking for a certain thing.

I do what I want.

Subscription problem update: It took way longer than necessary for me to figure this all out (thanks for the confusing instructions, plugin authors). If you want to subscribe to this thing, “like” the FB page (to the right) right and magically links to new posts will appear in your news feed (it posts to your feed, and does not pretend to be you and ask people if they want to play Bubble Orgy or Animal Farm, I promise).

Posted in Junk I Think You Should Know | Leave a comment

My 2016 Tournament Rundown, plus Bonus 2015 Additions!

I have long considered doing tournament rundowns, just sort of my take on the events I go to. If this is a tournament I’ve been to more than once, I’ll note it. I’m adding external links, but you can also find most, if not all, of these events on Facebook. We’re going chronologically through the year, I’m trying to stick to tournaments I know are repeated (and this list is not exhaustive), and keep the details easy to digest.

If you are interested in adding your experiences, I can consider an addendum with your guest spot and attribution. Just follow my detail listing and send it over to julia.sleazer at the gmails.

Wild West Showdown: Bremerton, WA
Time: Late February-Early March Host: ? First Year: 2010
Length: 3 Days Type: WFTDA, MRDA (when available), JRDA
Wild West Showdown
Intro: I’ve been to WWS twice now, 2015 and 2016. This is a pretty neat tournament held at Kitsap Sun Pavilion in Bremerton, WA.
Tracks: There are two tracks going all the time.
All gender restrooms: Cannot recall.
Vendors: there are vendors for skate gear, clothing, and tournament merch.
Teams: I cannot recall the number of teams from 2015 (and don’t have my program here), but in 2016 there were 6 WFTDA, 6 JRDA Open, and 6 JRDA Women’s teams. I will note that in 2015, there were MRDA teams and there was supposed to be again, but it did not happen.
Live stats for announcers: No.
Venue details: The venue has polished concrete floors, bleacher seating along the long wall with additional seating trackside, and the announcers are on a stage that faces turns 3-4. 2015 featured in house only, while 2016 broadened their reach with hybrid streaming.

Skate to Thrill: St. Charles, MO
Time: Spring Host: St Chux Derby Chix First Year: 2014
Length: 2 Days Type: WFTDA Recognized Event
Skate to Thrill
Intro: I was at the first two Skate to Thrills (NSO 2014, announcer 2015), and it was so exciting! A D1/D2 invitational in the Midwest? Yes!
Tracks: This is a single-tracked invitational, initially hosted in Wright City, MO and moved to SCDC’s main venue, Matteson Square Gardens, in 2015.
All gender restrooms: Cannot recall.
Vendors: there are generally local vendors, as there are a lot of great derby-based companies in the area, as well as equipment and clothing vendors and tournament merch.
Teams: A WFTDA-recognized event, it boasts 8 teams from various parts of the country, some really excellent local vendors, and is an all around good time.
Live stats for announcers: No.
Venue details: The venue (as I recall) has sport court floor, removable bleacher and chair seating, and announcers in 2015 were positioned around turn 4. 2014-2016 has featured in house only, but I feel like this tournament has a lot of promise and wouldn’t be surprised if they move to hybrid or independent stream in the future.

Big O: Eugene, OR
Time: Early May Host: Emerald City Roller Girls First Year: 2008
Length: 3 Days Type: WFTDA Recognized Event, MRDA, JRDA
Big O
Intro: I’ve been to Big O twice, also and this event absolutely stunned me the first time I went. With the size and success of this event attracting more international leagues and leagues further from the West Coast/PNW, I can only imagine 2017 is going to be mind-blowing.
Tracks: Located at the Lane County Events Center, the venue holds three tracks! There’s even plenty of space in between!
All gender restrooms: Yes.
Vendors: The vendors… oooohhhhhh the vendors! There are so many vendors and you can buy anything from league or event merchandise to kitty cat shaped handbags to skates. Everything in between is there, too, trust me. There’s also a nice area between tracks 1 and 2 to buy coffee and pastries, sit at tables, or watch the live stream on a TV. It’s really an amazing venue.
Teams: In 2015, there was 17 WFTDA teams (not counting additional B-teams), 10 MRDA teams, and 7 JRDA teams. 2016 featured 17 WFTDA teams (plus 4 B-teams), 9 MRDA teams, and 5 JRDA teams. 2 WFTDA teams were from Europe (Helsinki Roller Girls from Finland and Auld Reekie Roller Girls from Scotland), and 1 from Australia (Victorian Roller Derby League). The remainder of the WFTDA, as well as MRDA and JRDA teams (though the latter is more West Coast) hail from throughout the country.
Live stats for announcers: No.
Venue details: The venue is sport court floor, removable bleacher seating, and announcers are on a stage that faces turns 3-4. In 2015, two tracks had independent house and stream, with the third track as hybrid. In 2016, track 1 had independent house and stream, with 2 and 3 on hybrid. Two games from track 1 were featured live on ESPN 3 (which kept them off the normal stream).

Guest Addition: Holly Sheet for 2015 rundown; additional information on teams for 2015/2016 provided by Sleazer Googling

Flat Track Fever: Calgary, AB, Canada 
Time: May Host: Chinook City Roller Derby First Year: 2012
Length: 3 days Type: WFTDA, MRDA, JRDA exhibitions, and “drop-in” scrimmages
Flat Track Fever
Intro: 2015: The league have since hosted the MRDWC, and as such may have an advantage in preparation for announcers, equipment and set-up of venue logistics. Announcers were provided with NSO rosters prior to games, no pronouns in 2015, but teams were happy to talk to regarding pronunciation and pronouns. Well looked after, with food and drinks refreshments catered in the officials and volunteers separate room.
Tracks: Two tracks located at the Acadia Recreation Center (further description of venue/tracks)
All gender restrooms: Yes.
Vendors: there is a “vendor village.”
Teams: 2015: 10 WFTDA, 3 MRDA; 2016: 8 WFTDA, no MRDA
Live stats for announcers: ?
Venue Details: 2015: Track 1 was hybrid feed and in-house, which didn’t give the best audio quality, but with it being a larger hall allowed better connection to the audience. Track 2 was in-house only, set up at the far end of a hockey rink, so difficult to maintain energy and contact with the audience who were outside of the barriers.

Mayhem: Loveland, CO
Time: Spring Host: Slaughterhouse Derby Girls First Year: 2011
Length: 3 Days Type: WFTDA, MRDA, JRDA
Mayhem on Facebook
Intro: Formerly known as “Mayday Mayhem,” this tournament moved to June in 2016 and dropped the first part. I went to Mayhem in 2014 and 2015 and thought it was wonderfully produced.
Tracks: Hosted at The Ranch starting in 2014, they have two tracks going simultaneously and a great array of WFTDA, MRDA, and JRDA teams.
All gender restrooms: Cannot recall.
Vendors: there are vendors for skate gear, clothing, and tournament merch.
Teams: In 2014, there were 12 WFTDA, 7 MRDA, and a few JRDA teams (I believe 2). In 2015, 14 WFTDA, 3 MRDA, and 4 JRDA teams. In 2016, 16 WFTDA, 6 MRDA teams, and I believe there was not a JRDA presence, but feel free to correct me (I do not see them on the schedule or FTS). Several international teams have come to this tournament, including (but not limited to) Paradise City (QLD, Australia), Leeds (UK), Winnipeg (MB, Canada), Royal City Roller Girls (ON, Canada), Glenmore Reservoir Dogs (AB, Canada), and Nidaros (Trondheim, Norway). Aside from the excellent international representation Mayhem has had over the years, the WFTDA and MRDA teams hail from all parts of the United States, so you can see some match ups here that you may not otherwise.
Live stats for announcers: Live stats are possible if you partner up with someone who will use Boom Kitty’s RollerStats from elsewhere (presumable around turn 4) to relay certain information to you.
Venue details: The venue floor is polished concrete, removable seating, with announcers positioned on a stage on track 1 at turn 1 and a table on track 2 at turn 1. Both tracks feature independent house and stream.

Men’s Roller Derby World Cup: Location Varies
Time: Varies within the Spring-Summer Host: Varies First Year: 2014
Length: 4 Days (as of 2016) Type: MRDA (regulation)
MRDWC
Intro: My first tournament as an announcer was MRDWC 2014 in Birmingham, England. It was also the first international trip I had taken to the First World, so it was exciting all around. 🙂 Something I love about this tournament is that you can see teams quickly pick up strategy during play and adapt on the spot to meet their opponents. In 2014, this was best shown by Ninjapan, who have lightning fast adaptation abilities. Another thing you can expect to see here is international comradery, even between the lowest and highest seeds. The energy is intense and very positive.
In 2014, it was a 3 day event, which turned into a 4 day event in 2016. The first day of 2014 and first 2 days of 2016 kicked off with 30-minute seed games for the pairings. During those games, the clock doesn’t stop for injuries, team time outs, or official time outs. Each team gets one time out for the 30 minute period and no reviews. A great display of this happened in 2014, when a young man was injured early in a game and the remainder of the clock counted down while everyone awaited medical attention, as the EMTs deemed it unsafe to move him from the track without outside medical assistance. They really do mean 30 minutes. After all the seeding is finished, normal lengths of play with regular clock-stopping events resumes for the rest of the tournament.
Tracks: So far, each MRDWC has had two simultaneous tracks with staggered times.
All gender restrooms: Yes.
Vendors: there are vendors for skate gear, clothing, and tournament merch, as well as international team merch (some of which sells out very quickly, so hurry!). 2016 had an on-site heat press, so you could customize your gear.
Teams: In 2014, there were 15 teams competing. In 2016, the number increased to 20.
Live stats for announcers: No.
Venue details vary by year: Initially held at @Futsal in the UK, a short rundown of that venue, in case you find yourself there, is: futsal grade sport court flooring (it’s not terribly different than the sport court you’re used to, but I wanted to point out it is not the same type), removable bleacher seating, and announcers positioned either standing (house) or at a table (stream) facing turns 1-2.
2016 was hosted at Acadia Recreational Complex in Calgary, AB. One rink is hockey and the other curling. Both feature polished concrete flooring. Track one has bleachers behind hockey protective plexiglass, chair seating near turns 2-3, and a lot of people found standing room near turn 4. Announcers were positoned at a table (house) or dais (stream) facing turn 4. Track two has removable bleacher seating and the announcers are at a table (house) or on a stage (stream) facing turn 4. The biggest difference I felt between the two tracks (I was track manager of track 2, so I spent most of my time there) was that the curling rink (track 2) seemed to heat up quickly and Calgary can be quite balmy. Also, if you were an announcer or seated NSO trying to get to your area, track 2 gave a straight shot with not problems, while at track 1 you might have to take a long route around the hockey protective walls. Both 2014 and 2016 featured independent house and stream calls.

Rust Riot: Shoreline, WA
Time: August Host: Rat City Roller Girls First Year: 2008, discontinued until 2015
Length: 2 Days Type: WFTDA, MRDA (when available)
Rust Riot
Intro: Rust Riot had a few years gap before it came back in 2015, but it is a small tournament held at Rat City Roller Girls venue, the Rat’s Nest. It’s a small round-robin style tournament, but still very fun.
Tracks: The venue is single-track.
All gender restrooms: The signs on the doors are not gendered. One shows toilets, and the other shows urinals, so the choice is yours (I’m under the impression the one with urinals likely has toilets as well).
Vendors: mostly team and tournament merch, with some equipment mixed in.
Teams: In 2015, it was set as a B-team tournament, featuring Rat City, Windy City, Philly, and Denver. They also had one MRDA bout of Puget Sound Outcasts v Vancouver Murder. In 2016, they added in A teams, and the combined line up includes Rat City Roller Girls: All Stars, Rat City Roller Girls: Rain of Terror, Terminal City: All Stars, Terminal City: B-Side, Rose City: Axles of Annihilation, Montreal: Sexpos and Rocky Mountain: Contenders.
Live stats for announcers: No.
Venue details: The venue has sport court flooring, removable bleacher and chair seating, and announcers are on a stage facing turns 3-4. 2015 featured in house only, but 2016 made use of hybrid for most calls, with one independent house and stream call for the RCRG v TC All Stars game. RCRG has been doing a great deal of streaming this year, and I imagine that will continue into 2017 (shout out to Mod and the volunteers that make this happen).

MRDA Championships: Location Varies
Time: October Host: Varies (2016 is Texas Men’s Roller Derby) First Year: 2011
Length: 2 Days Type: MRDA
MRDA
Intro: My very first tournament ever was NSOing Gateway to the Best: MRDA Championships 2012, hosted by the St. Louis Gatekeepers. It was my second year in derby, and when I really began to get into men’s roller derby. This event will always be special to me. My past experience with MRDA Championships (2 as NSO, 2 as announcer) has been great. I look forward to this one every year!
Tracks: This has so far been a single track event.
All gender restrooms: Varies by year.
Vendors: There aren’t usually a huge number of vendors, but you can find just about any skate gear you’d like. Grnmnstr always has a booth, and you will generally also find Atom, Mota, etc. there, as well. There will always be at least one vendor for derby clothes, sometimes there’s an on-the-spot-press to put your name on your shirts, and the teams have booths, as well. Some of them (I remember at least 2012 and 2015) have an on-site heat press to customize your gear.
Teams: A rundown of the team count over time (it should be the top 10, but variances happen because of travel, etc.): 2011- 6; 2012- 8; 2013- 8; 2014- 8; 2015- 10; 2016- TBA. Since 2014, this event has become international, with the inclusion of London’s Southern Discomfort Roller Derby.
Live stats for announcers: MRDA Champs has used Rinxter every time I have attended (4/5 times).
Venue details vary by year: In 2015, the Gatekeepers hosted again at the Midwest Sport and Hockey Complex of Balwin, MO. A short rundown on that venue for the curious: sport court flooring, bleacher seating behind hockey protective plexiglass, independent house and stream announcing with announcers positioned on a stage facing turns 1-2. A note to skaters about this venue: the penalty box chairs will snap shut like something out of Harry Potter if you sit with too much force, which may erroneously look like you’ve come in too hot. Slow down early. The four I have attended have had independent house and stream. Floor, etc. varies by venue, clearly, so I will update after Lonestar Showdown.

Posted in Alright!, Derby, Junk I Think You Should Do | Leave a comment

Sequingate

I haven’t posted in a long time. I’m still sitting on like 9 drafts of derby things, so maybe one of those will go up, soon. You know I’m always quick with a rant, though, right?

Anyway, there’s some fuckery afoot and I wanted to just get this out there: Derby Kiss came up with a fabulous creation that skyrocketed in popularity- color changing derby shorts.You probably saw the video. Everyone saw the video. Note: I don’t have a lot of call to wear cute shorts these days, so Derby Kiss commissioned a tie for me in my favorite colors. A tie I can play with = Sleazer dreams.

 

 

Right after that video went viral in not only the derby community, but in other performance-based hobbies/jobs/etc., Derby Kiss hit over 30k likes on Facebook and became one of those stories you daydream about: a small business going strong after an amazing idea and someone making money at a job that they love. Hooray!

However, you may have recently noticed Derby Skinz started selling color changing fanny packs and… the one they have been more quiet about on Facebook, color changing shorts. They even boast that they have reinforced bands at the waist and legs “so you can enjoy wearing them while showing them off.” The originals at Derby Kiss have this, too, so I’m not really sure how this is a feature worth bragging. “Hey, we stole the idea for color changing shorts AND it’s pretty much the same shorts.”

Am I about to tell you Skinz are subpar? No. I wore and own several pair. I also wore and own several pair of Jaime Baby Booty Boutique shorts, which became my go-to because 1) they’re awesome. I have a pair of shorts that I got to pick out every aspect and custom order. 2) It’s a small business. 3) Jaime is rad. Derby Kiss didn’t exist when I was skating, but I can say very similar things about them.

What I am going to tell you is this: derby is supposed to be a community. We all refer to it as a community. We support each other. We love buying things from other derby people. We love buying things from our friends. Why, then, is one of the biggest names in derby short technology stealing the idea of a significantly smaller business right when they are taking off with such force?

Because they can.

Does it make it right? Absolutely fucking not.

Remember when Hot Topic/Target/Think Geek/etc. stole ideas from Etsy shops and everyone was like “rawr! No!” How is this different?

Anyway, I suppose my rant is not all-too-ranty and I’m not properly channelling my rages today, but I wanted to put this out here, because I’m unhappy with this behavior and I wanted you to know why.

Posted in Derby, Junk I Think You Should Know, Serious Post Time | 6 Comments

Using Twitter for Good

Something I’ve been doing for about a year now is tweeting. Yeah, I used to have a Twitter account, on which I would post quippy little stupid things, but it got tiresome. The best use I’ve found for Twitter is scores.

I am seeing more and more of this in the last few months on my Facebook friends list, which is great! However, I’m here to encourage you, person who might not be doing this, to contribute to derby in a really simple way: post scores.

The reason I began doing this is that I found myself at such strange bouts… games… productions… whatever we are calling them, now, and my friends often weren’t. Sometimes, even at big tournaments, the staff is overwhelmed or busy and not able to update scores as fast as fans would like. I, on the other hand, was often NSOing or announcing, so would stand around until the score board changed from “unofficial final” to “official final” and send it out to the world.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, here are some tips. If it doesn’t, well, here’s a video of Benedict Cumberbatch reading poetry, then class dismissed.

Tips for leagues:

  • Sign up for Twitter. It doesn’t even matter if you forget you have the account, even though it’s great for little shout outs and whatnot. People will still be able to interact with your league, even if your league doesn’t use it. It’s free, so why not give the option?
  • Make sure you pick a username that will make you easy to find. When people are at your games, if they want to mention you, they can type @ then start what they imagine your name will be and a dropdown of suggestions will appear. This way, they can find you without having to leave the post and search, so a good username that gets people to the right league is important.
    • If you are Sleazer City Imperials, don’t make your username “ILoveBacons.” I love bacons, too, but no one will think to start typing that in when looking for your league. If they can’t get you in the first few tries, they might give up trying to interact with you. I’m usually tweeting from my phone, so I will have the post ready to go, only to find I can’t @ the league I want. If it’s close to the end and I don’t want to lose the tweet on accident (sometimes my phone is janky), I don’t search, and they won’t know that I posted their score (I do search if I’m on my laptop, because it’s easier).
      • It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but ask yourself the number of times someone at the afterparty asks the final score. If you have Twitter and someone on your league posts the score from the league account or someone outside your league posts it and successfully mentions your league, you’ve got that info. I’m all about some accuracy.
    • Also choosing a recognizable username saves scrolling and confusion. Just this last weekend I thought I was tagging the league who was hosting the tournament I was at, only to find I was tagging a league in Canada. The logo was tiny, but the name indicated it was roller derby… just, you know, not in the same country as mine.
  • @ (mentions) will show up in your league’s notifications, in the feeds of your followers, and, if someone who isn’t following you searches @yourleague’susername, they can see them, too.
    • You can retweet your mentions (just like any other tweet) if you have someone actively monitoring your league’s Twitter account. If you do this, the tweet can be seen in your feed by anyone (unless you protect your posts, which would be weird in this instance).
    • Try to use a picture of your league’s logo that will show up clearly, even when small. This can be helpful when the username isn’t necessarily apparent to the person trying to mention you.
  • # (hashtags) are a completely different story. Those are community built. You can spread the word that you want to use a certain hashtag (like London Rollergirls’ recent use of #bees). Hashtags won’t alert any certain account  but clicking on it or searching for it will bring up all posts with the same hashtag (you may notice #bees brings up LRG posts and… posts about bees, for example).
    • An example of # and @ problems: while I was at Men’s Roller Derby World Cup, if you #MRDWC, your post could be found in searches along with a billion other posts about the tournament. However, @MRDWC is someone’s username and that poor guy did not know what was going on. He had the username first, so we gently reminded fans to use the # instead of @ to get to us. Sorry, guy!
  • Set your Twitter to post your league’s tweets to your Facebook page. It’s a two-birds-one-stone scenario, so you don’t have to post the same thing in both places. Once linked, your Facebook posts can go to Twitter (if your Facebook posts go over the count, they will be given a short URL, so people can see the first several words and click through if they think it’s going to be interesting) and your tweets can go to Facebook.

Tips for individuals:

  • I use my Twitter pretty exclusively for scores. I’m usually fairly fast to get the score up, depending on what I’m doing at the game, and, because of that, I’ve been retweeted by leagues, tournament hosts, and even DNN once or twice. So, again, while it might sound like a small contribution, sometimes it helps out the event coordinators. That’s good, right?
  • The only problem with tweeting scores is that one needs to be tweeting official scores. Scores are not official until the, uh, officials have double checked the stats and corrected or confirmed the math.
    • If the final jam just ended, chances are that is not the official score. Some score boards will even say “unofficial final” (I wish they all did) under the score, to indicate that the score keepers and jam refs are mathing it up to make sure this is legitimately the score. Those types of score boards will then change to “official final” once everything is confirmed.
    • Often the announcers will point out when the official score is up, but if there a hurry and a good point spread, they may just congratulate the winning team, because there’s no math error that could give back enough points to change the outcome.
    • Tweeting unofficial finals is not really helpful, unless it ends up nothing has changed. Yeah, I know, often the unofficial and official scores are the same, but sometimes fans, players, etc. will update scores on sites like Flat Track Stats from tweets. While FTS, itself, is unofficial, errors in reporting can upset skaters, because, unofficial or not, it can give at least an idea of how a team is faring in the rankings. You probably know official rankings take time, as the stats have to be entered, submitted, and reviewed before the official rankings change, but I still wanted to point out the pitfall of haste.
      • Story time: I was once at a tournament and knew someone was updating FTS off of my tweets, but had to go back to the hotel for a bit. I decided to tweet off of the event’s page for a game or two, then go back and resume in person reporting. One score got reported on the event page backwards. I retweeted it and an hour later I heard this team was really upset, because FTS showed them significantly dropped in rankings. Luckily, I could fix it with a message or two, so I confirmed the correct score with the THNSO, sent the message through, and the person reporting off my tweets got it reversed. I then notified the team, who were super happy that it went so smoothly. It went so smoothly because I was lucky that day. It was a huge event and there was a lot going on. This is why I’m all about double or triple checking and I usually rely on myself for the final scores. I’m often standing somewhere as an official or announcer that I know for absolute sure what’s going on. Generally, if I step out, I ask another official friend of mine to text me half and final scores… my bad.
  • I have my Twitter set to post my tweets as public on my Facebook profile, as well as to one of my pages. I don’t know how many people just watch Twitter feeds these days, so having the capability to reach people on Facebook at the same time is helpful. I keep them public, because I don’t friend everyone, and followers are able to see the scores. I also have a Twitter widget on my blog, because it’s kind of neat.
    • You can also link Instagram with Twitter, so you could theoretically post a picture of the final score board screen, but I don’t. Why? My phone has very limited storage and after having Instagram for several years and never using it, I uninstalled it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this instance, it’s 140 characters, max.
  • I am very rarely at an event to watch, so, if I’m between working games, I will sometimes load up what I’m going to say without the final official score, so I can be ready in case the score board doesn’t stay up as long as I’d like.
    • For example (clearly I made these names up), I might open Twitter and type in “Sleazer City B-Cup 2014: Problemtown Problems Awesometown Awesomes final @problemtown @awesometown @sleazercity” then go about my business.
      • When the official score is up, all I have to do is type in the two scores, double check that I’ve not fat-fingered it, then tweet. “Sleazer City B-Cup 2014: Problemtown Problems 286 Awesometown Awesomes 250 final @problemtown @awesometown @sleazercity.”
      • Now both teams and the tournament host all have my tweet in their notifications and feeds. Sometimes they retweet them, sometimes they leave it.
      • I also put in “final” to indicate I stood around for the official score. I used to tweet halftime scores by ending with “half,” but, unless I’m at some really heated event, I tend toward just posting the final.
    • @ mentions, again, will go to a league’s notifications, so if they want to retweet your post publically, they know it’s there.
  • League/Team acronyms are a time saver, but if I’m at a tournament, I will often use the full team name the first time, then use their acronym in subsequent tweets at the same event. That way, if I can’t mention them properly, at least people know who I’m talking about from the first tweet.

So, there you have it. When you aren’t busy Instagraming your dinner, like anyone gives two shits what you’re eating, consider Instagraming the final score board, or just using your words.

Posted in Alright!, Derby, Junk I Think You Should Do, Serious Post Time | Leave a comment

It’s Time for Words I Don’t Want to Say

I apologize for the length of this post. It is a revision of a recent status update I rage-posted. I feel like I wanted to say something… and so I will. MY BLOG YAY! I will start off with a snippet that I think is most important, because I know it is rare anyone wants to read more than 10 words in. I might have already lost you.

Thank you to all my zebra friends for being dedicated to roller derby. You have always made my derby-day happy, I have always appreciated the ups and downs we’ve gone through together, and you are 1/3 of this amazing sport. Thank you for doing your job and having integrity, even when it might cause backlash. Thank you for shrugging off the bad things and coming back for the good ones.

I will not say that all referees are the best referees. I will not say there does not exist a biased referee. I will say, though, that out of all the referees you encounter, no matter how good you *think* their calls are, the vast majority of them have trained for years to get to where they are, given up their spare time and (often) a great deal of money to improve themselves as officials for what?

The skaters.

There is no ref MVP at the after party. They get no tangible glory if their team wins. In fact, I will tell you outright: as an official in any capacity, I do not give two fucks about who won or lost, even though my friends are often on one of the two teams. It isn’t my job to care, and I am not an anomaly. I do not know a serious ref on the planet that would put their good name (which is, in fact, the only tangible they get, as it allows them to go to fancy tournaments and whatnot) on the line to make their friends feel good. Not because they are bad friends, but because they are good refs. They are a special type of people that like rules, skating, and derby enough to participate in a manner I have heard many skaters consider worse than a stick in the eye, and they love it.

So unbiased, doesn't even care about babies' feels.

So unbiased, doesn’t even care about babies’ feels.

Do you remember starting out at any hobby? I am going to default the example to roller derby, of course, so bear with me. Were you just the most amazing skater, juking through packs and jumping apices and all that? Or, were you falling all over yourself like a drunk person with no bones, wondering if “apices” is the plural of “apex” or if there’s a term you need to learn, becoming someone’s goat, and feeling like a dork in knee socks?

A zeeb in training

A zeeb in training

Well, guess what? Most refs do the same skating practice you do (minus contact, obviously), but then add on special ref training, like “learning the rules like they’re religious verses and Jesus is going to give a pop-quiz at half time,” “practicing for weeks or months on end to accurately identify penalties AND get their mouths and hands to cooperate with their brains so they call it in time, instead of way too late (this is actually a thing, and it only gets better with loads of practice),” and so on. It is a long journey and it never ends. Even high level, certified referees learn and evolve and practice, just like skaters do. There is no end. So, when you consider the length of training, the (essentially) private and field research involved, the concentration necessary, and the desire to execute the job correctly, remember that some refs are just recently approved by their Head Ref to officiate a bout, while others have been doing it for eons, and that both types are working hard to be their best for the game, not for some personal glory.

We even learn baseball slides, just like you.

We even learn baseball slides, just like you.

Name a famous ref (skaters only). Ok, now name a famous skater. Mmhmm.

Sometimes, there are mistakes. Chances are, they were accidents, no matter if you want to believe it or not. Refs aren’t robots, but they are trying their asses off to be as unbiased and correct as possible. Often, when I’ve heard people flipping out about a call, they literally are not familiar enough with the rules to understand why the call was made. Is ignorance a free pass for rage?

Oh, is the Official Timeout taking too long? Are you having to wait while the refs fuck around? They’re probably talking about what toppings they want on their pizza or what happened on Breaking Bad last week. God, what dicks… Oh, wait! Maybe they are discussing an issue or an error at length so they can come to the best possible solution (which means “according to the rules,” not “for one of the teams”)! That is a novel concept! Better yell crazy shit at them so they get done faster, because that certainly isn’t distracting and sadness inducing! I hope the announcers join in, because being unbiased and trying to appropriately follow the ruleset is wicked dumb!

"...and then Walt was like 'it's blue...' HAY! WE R RULESING BRB OK!"

“…and then Walt was like ‘it’s blue…’ HAY! WE R RULESING BRB OK!”

Consider referees like this: probably 90% of the rules are in place for safety, and the remainder is to make the game a game. Would you flip out on a cop for stopping someone from doing something that put others in danger? Would you flip out on a parent who stopped their kids from eating delicious glass shards? When someone says to me “well, it’s the heat of the moment, and you’re all full of adrenaline and it just comes out,” all I hear is “the only way I could assuage my anger about a situation or action that I could not actively control was to displace my terrible rage at someone, and it seemed like the refs, who obviously are unfeeling objects, were my best bet. Oh, and I never said I was sorry, because I don’t feel like I have to.”

Here’s a fun fact: everyone can access the same ruleset as the referees. Everyone can learn the rules, adjust strategy to keep it legal, and understand all the calls and more just by using your eyeballs to read words and your brain to consider them. For those who make wild accusations in and out of the bout, consider that, really, if they had a leg to stand on, they would have called for a review and gotten real results instead of resorting to petty name calling.

Oh, and guess what? Refs also spend extra time talking about rules and instances on forums, in chats, over texts, in person, and anywhere else you probably wouldn’t want to talk about rules. True story. Hell, for a while, there was a WFTDA confidential file for refs only, because they need to know so much shit, it gets weird. Why? Oh, because for every nuance they learn about a single rule, they get $10. No, wait, sorry, I meant “because they love derby.” Generally a $0 endeavor.

We have clinics, you know, where high ranking refs (who we get giddy about, just like skaters do about their own derby-crushes) talk to us about strange rules scenarios and learn extra stuff like “professional composure.” It’s always bothered me that while non-officials are throwing what amounts to a toddler’s hissy fit at the officials, they must remain calm. Keep your game face on. Do not engage. In fact, we aren’t even allowed to make friendly contact with our buddies at the bout, get in the hug-dog-pile if our team wins, or… dance. We are prevented by an established conduct expectation for officials to not dance.

No one is plotting against anyone. The refs have not gotten so jealous of your ability to dance and smile during a bout that they have a vendetta. Zero plots, well, until a group of butt hurt people decide to shout “bias” from the rooftops as a misguided attempt at retaliation. That would be an active plot against the ref, and in my mind, social suicide. No one pays off the refs on the sly, and it doesn’t matter what the affiliated league’s rankings are to them (other than to be like “yay! That’s neat!”) If you have ever seen someone heckle a ref, talk shit on them in front of a group of derby people, or outright try to ruin their day, let me nudge you toward the answer to the age old question “why are there so few refs at practice?

I would also like to mention a few things:

When a skater gets all whiny because they were in so many lines, think about the Outside Pack Refs. If the leagues were lucky to field three, then great, but regardless of whether it is less… they chase the pack every single jam from the farthest point possible. The pack sprints and they have to spring faster. The pack abruptly slows, and they must as well. All this while looking up and down a gaggle of bodies, evaluating if they are completely in bounds, refraining from committing contact penalties, keeping some eye contact communication with the inside refs, shouting penalties from that distance over the noise to the penalty trackers…

I am using an actual bout that I have sitting here (it’s a few years old, but I have a copy of a lot more stats than one would imagine) to illustrate two examples. This bout was between two competitive rosters, and the final score was 117 to 83. See, you know it’s old because the point spread isn’t one million to four.

Hai, OPRs!

Hai, OPRs!

In this bout, the OPRs (on rotation, ask an OPR if you don’t know what the rotation is) skated about 5 miles (if you imagine they hug the outside line, which, well, they don’t), not including the times they had to chase a skater who missed being called repeatedly. There are one to three OPRs, so math math math 1 OPR = a bit above 5 miles; 2 = a bit above 2.5; 3 = a bit above 1.7. All at varying speeds with some abrupt stops mixed in.

Hai, JRs!

Hai, JRs!

I chose to show one of the two Jam Ref’s journeys in this same bout,  so just over 2.6 miles (they are closer to the line than OPR, but this is again, assuming they are hugging the line) at high enough speeds to keep up with the jammer, while dodging inward falling skaters, the other JR, the two IPR, and anything else that might wind up right there.

Sorry, how many lines did you say you were in?

Get out your stat book and check your %. Was it “100%?” Right on. Spare a high five for your zebra friends.

Cherish your officials. Encourage them! Constructive feedback is a good thing; being a flippant child to try and make yourself feel better is not. Think something is amiss? Schedule a meeting for the players to have a rules discussion with your coaching committee and your refs.

Did someone say they want to talk about ruuuuuules?

Did someone say they want to talk about ruuuuuules?

Chastise those who harass referees because I will tell you right now: there are leagues that I literally refuse to officiate even if I am near the city they are visiting and are begging, because I have seen this type of behavior. If one of your friends or teammates is doing this, STOP THEM! Bonk them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, frankly. Too humiliating? Well, it’s shameful behavior, so I stand by it. To drive my point home, the derision was never even directed at me (I’ve actually only ever been yelled at by one skater, and it was at practice, and she was wrong and a half… and I totally have a PDF of the latest ruleset on my phone). That’s how strongly I feel about this aspect of sportsmanship.

Good sportsmanship is more than getting beers and leg wrestling with the other team after a bout. Wake up and make sure you and your league support your officials as much as humanly possible. I can’t tell you enough how much the smallest act of appreciation goes in the ref world. It should not be that way. They should be so used to being spoiled that it is sickening, but it’s just not the case…

You should consider your refs part of your league. Did you notice they are on your WFTDA roster? Do you think that’s a coincidence? Does negative reinforcement fly on your bench or seem to get your players to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and somehow magically become what you want them to be? No? Seem like stupid questions?

Newsflash: it isn’t an “us versus them” scenario unless you make it one. It is an “us and us” with different jerseys on and different jobs. Skaters: skate strategically  and follow rules. Refs: skate in a circle and make sure the humans you are monitoring are safe and playing the game per the ruleset.

And, yes, I left off any possible NSO stuff because I want to stop writing the longest status ever, but I love and care deeply for them, as well.

Go love a ref, but don’t hug them unless you know it’s ok. I think it’s weird. You wanna press your chest against my chest as some act of affection or gratitude? I dunno. Your call.

Thanks for making sure no one jacks me in the kidney, buddy!

Thanks for making sure no one jacks me in the kidney, buddy!

Posted in Alright!, Derby, Junk I Think You Should Know, Semi-Serious Post Time | 26 Comments

Sometimes, Even I Am Surprised

It’s rare, sure, but even jaded old me can be surprised by something.

For example, a roller derby league that only formed in January busting ass week after week and now, after eight months, is ready to bout. I have been visiting this league, NEMO ViQueens (so named for being mostly from the Northeastern area of Missouri), for months.

My first visit was on Valentine’s Day. I drove up later than I’d planned and the ladies were taking a water break. They swarmed over to the wall as their coach, Ken, introduced me to them and were so excited! Why? They are genuinely happy to meet new people. I was thinking back at this moment to the first time I ever showed up to a derby practice, ever. Only the Head Ref said anything to me, and that’s how weeks on weeks of my early derby career was. I suppose, now, I’m better established in the derby community, but it was an exciting moment.

Copyright Ken Mitchell

My first ViQueens practice

There wasn’t much time left in practice, but I scootled around and did some drills. It was smiley happy derby. The semester collapsed on me, though, and the most I could do was an appearance here or there, but the ladies kept in touch on Facebook and I worked like a ninja on their website.

I got together my NSO clinic again and ran it for a more than captive audience, as these ladies, skaters and officials alike, are information sponges.

Getting ready to learn all the learns!

Getting ready to learn all the learns!

Afterwards, I set all the non-skating participants up, and we had a scrimmage practice so they could use their new skills and I could wander between them, making sure they all had it down. It was a really great (OPTIMAL) set up for an NSO clinic.

Copyright Ken Mitchell

Skaters and NSOs all practiced up <3

Every practice is like a… it’s like the snowglobe scene from Labyrinth. It’s beautiful, everyone is having fun doing the derby dance in their derby costumes, and every assist is like finding David Bowie…  minus the waking up in a weird trash pile, having found Hoggle had fed you poisoned fruit…

Hey, girl, you ready for an assist?

Hey, girl, you ready for an assist?

I’m not the best at analogies.

It’s beautiful, though. The structure is nice, the practices are awesome, several people from around the state have popped in for guest practices, including Gatekeepers’ fancy, fancy Batwing.

Copyright Ken Mitchell

Batwing and the ViQueens!

In July, the ViQueens teamed up with the Macomb Bombshells and put on a mixer, with clinics by Shane Darby (skaters; Gatekeepers), Cowboy (refs; Mid-Iowa Rollers), and yours truly (NSOs; CoMo/Damaged Goods/NEMO). After the clinics, there were three 20 minute scrimmages so the refs, NSOs, and skaters could get their derby on. It was awesome!

Copright Ken Mitchell

Scrimmage at the mixer (who’s that, standing slightly too tall?)

Three ViQueens (Blunt Force Mama, Ender’s Pain, and Past Prime) even participated as foster skaters for the CoMo Derby Dames in a B bout against SRG’s Battle Broads. This is what we call “strides!”

Fosters: Ender's Pain, Blunt Force Mama, and Past Prime

Fosters: Ender’s Pain, Blunt Force Mama, and Past Prime

I was even compelled to visit my ViQueen buddies the day of my wrist surgery, but sad that it was pointless to sign an Ace Bandage… but also happy to not have a cast (and today is the day that I will go back to practice, being healed up enough to not have a freaking crab claw).

Copyright Ken Mitchell

I felt icky all day, but after crab-claw jam reffing in shoes, 100% better!

And now, in August, the ViQueens will be tackling DRDC for their first official bout. Ultimately, I’m not as surprised as I could be about this. These ladies have been hitting the rink full force, attending practices regularly, keeping their attitudes positive, watching their penalties, working on endurance, and, best of all, building a derby family.

This is what I always imagined derby could be in my head. While I love all the bells and whistles of the big productions and I have been blessed to have been invited to referee, NSO, and announce some really spectacular events, and I am more than fortunate to have CoMo at my side and so many loving leagues surrounding me, this is something special and new and beautiful. It makes my heart feel like an actual heart.

I’m thrilled to be even the tiniest part of it.

While I will happily officiate my lovely CoMo Derby Dames, wander with Damaged Goods, announce whatever needs to be announced, I will also skate as a ViQueen.

Happy day!

Happy day!

Posted in Derby, Feels, Semi-Serious Post Time | 12 Comments

A Good Person I Know

Once, I had missed two flights in two days, as I am skilled at few, but specific things. I was sitting at the airport, texting away on a bench, when my friend popped up out of nowhere. We had met on a film set earlier that year, as he was one of the two makeup artists, and he had also been a security guard at my home league’s bouts (when we had them at the old venue). It was strange, or so I thought, but he told me he was working for a package delivery service and had just made a run at the airport. Two and a half hours from home and bummed out for running slightly behind constantly, it was wonderful to happen across him.

We sat on the bench for an hour or so. He told me when I got to India, I should ship things back with DHL, as they are good for overseas shipping. We talked about derby, and random things, and he told me… not to tell anyone, because he hadn’t told many people… his girlfriend was pregnant.

He said it with a sheepish grin, and when I yelled a congratulations at him, we both giggled and yayed and I thought it was so wonderful, because he was genuinely excited, like his life had just fallen into place. I’m always excited for fathers-to-be, but especially so at this moment. He left after a while, and I saw him on and off, or Facebooked with him, like I do.

Around the same time the next year, I was at an exec board meeting when it was mentioned that he was in the hospital. Colon cancer. The sweet boy that used to use his tall stature to make sure no one got out of hand at roller derby bouts was hurt, so I did what I thought was good: I bought him graphic novels (vol. 1 and 2 of Walking Dead; huge horror fan), and went to the hospital. I met his mother, who was wonderful, and we talked for a while. We ate popsicles and he bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t have soda. Even there, he was in a great mood and was just a little beam of happy light.

We kept in touch, even though I was getting tied up in my usual, frantic “too much work” mode, and a few months later, I volunteered to help out at the haunted house that he worked at, which is owned by mutual friends. He was the lead makeup artist and usually played a character that he called “Julius Kane.” I swear, if I saw him in his full gear, I probably would have lost my mind. Such an amazing artist.

He looked so much better. His color had come back to his face and he was walking around, tall and awesome, with a cane. I was going to be his assistant, and just make sure everything happened on time. I was so excited that he was there and that I was going to get to work with him, after all the fancy makeup he had done on the film. His fiance had stopped to talk to me one day and said that I should make sure that he didn’t overwork himself, because even then, he just wanted to do what he had always done. He didn’t over do it, though, and I was glad, and we spent his downtime talking under a tent or sitting up front, watching the show.

I was dating one of the actors at the haunt, who usually played Otis, and he would scurry up to us, then chase after terrified teenagers while we laughed in the shadows. It was a great time. I told my friend that I had never actually been in a haunted house proper, even though I had spent the last few years playing with special effects makeup at work and knew several people who worked between the two haunted houses in our city.

One night, he announced to the actors that we would be coming through and that they should make sure they were on the ball, because he didn’t want them to act differently (like he was checking their makeup), so I could do it with him. He reminded my of my eldest brother like this. Though my friend is eleven years younger than my brother, it was the way he wanted to make things awesome, just for me.

The haunted house was much bigger than I thought from the outside. We wound through one area, in which he let me get us lost, then through the next as I giggled in the dark, then through the next and the next, until we were out. If someone was late, I didn’t know it, and he would tap his cane on the floor, like the lord of the ghouls, and seconds later I would scream as some scary creation of his appeared out of thin air. We laughed as I tried to avoid the spooky things and the actors gave me extra guff.

It was fun, because haunted houses are full of unexpected twists, but they are best experienced with a companion, like most all things. He has the type of personality that makes the unexpected bearable. He is a paradigm of what I wish people were like.

These are just two strange memories I have of him. I have to admit, I don’t spend a lot of time with very many people, but his attitude and personality had touched me. It’s not everyday you meet someone so willing to go out of his way for people. He was so sweet and so giving. He was a loving father, a husband who kept his wife in the front of his mind, a friend who had a wonderful word on the tip of his tongue, and probably one of the most genuine people I will ever meet.

He passed away on Sunday. I found out on Tuesday. For the past few months, I have been tied up in work of some manner, but in my head, he was growing stronger and better and I would see him in October, if not sooner. We would laugh and talk about films and books and life and nothings under a tent, and he would tell me how things were perfect with a big smile, just like always.

Like the silly ass that I am, I had hoped he would turn up at the airport a few months ago, when I was taking a similar flight pattern to Asia and my flight was delayed for weather. I wonder if I will always look for him, now.

I just returned from a celebration of his life at a beautiful place in the next town over, and staring out onto the water and the trees and the lovely scenery, I thought “what would Chris want from me?”

He would want me to be a good person, just like he was, and to love life, just as he did. So, just as he would do, I’m going to keep these fleeting moments with me, remember the lovely man that I am privileged to have met, and be there for the friends who need me as much as I can.

So, I bid farewell to Chris and Julius. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with me, being my friend, and showing me that there is some sincerity in the world. It means a lot to me.

Chris Hostetler, Pink Diamond, Faerie Lethal, Maimy Fisher, Deth Blok, and Julia Sleazer

Chris Hostetler, Pink Diamond, Faerie Lethal, Maimy Fisher, Deth Blok, and Julia Sleazer

Posted in Feels, Serious Post Time | 12 Comments

The Stuff of Derby Legends: Scene 1

I’ve always been slightly envious of epic derby tales. Not jealous, mind you, as I rarely feel that at all. Just… envious. Here is my epic tale:

Once upon a time, in the Land of Big Canoes, there was a derby venue… no, wait.

I sing of paperwork and the man; he who, exiled by fate, first came from the third exit of Springfield to Lebanon…

I bet no one reads the Aeneid, anymore. Anyway.

So, for those of you who don’t know, bouts take paperwork if you want any statistics or proper record. If you have 34 bouts, you will need all the paperwork ever. I had been busy as a methed out bee for quite some time with planning. I thought I would print the sheets right before I left town, so I didn’t have cats scattering them all over or the chance to drop a bottle of ink on them or anything else I could dream up (someone remind me to get my fancy file-folder from the rink; I left it after the last bout).

I forgot that summer here makes crappy summer hours at places I might actually need stuff from, so as I prepared to leave town for a meeting with my four lovely Crew Head NSOs, I stopped by the place I thought I would print things, only to find it was closed.

Summer, why you make hours so crappy?

Summer, why you make hours so crappy?

I thought surely there would be a 24 hour printing place in Lebanon or the surrounding areas, and charged towards the city, chattering at NSOs on speaker phone along the way. I texted one of my lovely derby-wives, Krakk’em, and she returned with a number to a UPS store in Lebanon proper. I was set!

After the meeting, around 11pm, I was searching around all the places that were theoretically 24 hours on my phone… and they had also changed to summer hours. I was not set. I started to worry, but only slightly, because I’m just about out of worry for this year. Dr. Franken-zeeb was around and said if worse came to worse, we’d go to his house (about 45 minutes away) and print everything there. Alright. Fine.

Sleazer and Dr Frank: PAPERWORK ADVENTURE TIME!

Sleazer and Dr Frank: PAPERWORK ADVENTURE TIME!

I went to the hotel, but the hotel manager went absolutely batshit on me. Seriously, I don’t know what the fuck that guy’s problem is/was, but once I said my name, he was set on being a total jackass and I couldn’t convince him otherwise. I, being a person who abhors jackassery, left (there is another post pending for this leg of the story, mostly because no one gets to talk to me like that). No time for that. I left called every hotel in the area until I secured a room. I stopped in to give my roommate her key, and around 1:30am, Dr. Frank and I headed to his house.

Hey, bro. I can get lifts?

Hey, bro. I can get lifts?

We got there around 2:30, printed 33 pairs of score, penalty box, and penalty tracking sheets; one set of full stats for the final bout; and 60 each of the evaluation sheets, plus some extra… just in case. 5 schedules and 5 crew rosters. I’ve run out of fingers… with the extras… we printed about 416 sheets.

As we drove back to our hotels, I started trying to figure up how much time I would have if I tried to sleep. An hour at best. 6:45am meeting, 8am for the first whistle… and I unlocked my door at 5 on the dot.

“I will nap,” I thought, but around 5:15, I realized I was filling in corrections on a schedule with a pencil and realized that maybe my brain and my body are separate entities. I did sleep a solid 30 minutes, jumped in the shower, got dressed, and launched myself towards the venue. I watched Dr. Franken-zeeb referee the first bout with no problem, knowing he had a good 45 minutes of sleep and thought “are we crazy?”

(copyright David Strong of Grizz Photos)

Dr. Frank and Sleazer: REAL LIFE ADVENTURE TIME!

Fuck, no. We got the paperwork. We are heroes.

Posted in Derby, Super Random | 15 Comments

NShObo Awards 2013

NSOs are often the unspoken heroes of derby. If you are at a bout with scores, a penalty box, a whiteboard, someone tracking penalties, and someone starting your jams (you know, any bout), those are your NSOs. If you are a WFTDA league, the NSO paperwork is the only way you retain status and how your rankings are figured.

I love NSOs, all in black, like little paperwork ninjas scribblings down notes and code and numbers, with their little shoes and their load of dedication.

There is a group called NShObos, who have kindly created a voting form for the 2013 Awards. You should see some familiar names, no matter what part of the country you’re from (and there are even a few international nominees!). Vote today and bring some pleasure to your stats ninja’s lives!Voting ends 18.July, so make sure you get them in soon.

Posted in Derby, Junk I Think You Should Do | 1 Comment

It’s Okay to Fall in Love

I’m really sleepy. I couldn’t sleep but 3 hours last night, and now it’s like 1am, and I have to make up for the few hours I took to socialize this, uh… month, but Imma put this out here. It’s late and I’m nearly dead.

From Derby Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Everyone has a derby crush, and we’ve done the “Derby Crush of the Month” for the past few months, but this week we want to do something different!

We want to show our Officials some love!! So this week, we’re going to have the Ref & NSO Crush of the Month!

If you’ve got a Ref or NSO that you’d like to show some love to, SEND IT IN!! (Don’t post it here & spoil the fun! 😉 )

Shoot us an email at refcrush@derbydeeds.com!

Hugh Jorgan, Sleazer, and Mantis posing for a quick shot

Hugh Jorgan, Sleazer, and Mantis posing for a quick shot

I cannot honestly decide who to write in about. I know some really amazing refs; I know some really amazing NSOs. There are a lot of people that I jump up and down inside when I see them and a lot of people I know who have busted their ass to further the sport from the zeeble side. I have met people with such dedication to officiating derby that they will go to absolutely unbelievable lengths, just to learn or do or help. What is more crush-worthy than loyalty, dedication, brains, and desire?

You know what I think draws me to officiating? It’s either black and white or like a philosophical debate until we find the correct shade. Unlike picking crushes…

Posted in Derby, Junk I Think You Should Do | Leave a comment

The Great Melting Pot, Except Those Bits That Just Won’t Blend

 

An American flag hijab.

An American flag hijab.

This is what I’m talking about today.

First off, I’m going to give you a smidge of history.

1. America is supposed to be some big fucking melting pot, where everyone can be a shining star and chase the dream of working hard and living an awesome life. Not just White people, not just Christians, not just guys. Back in the day, the three most discriminated against persons: Black (if you didn’t pick up on this one), Asian (please see how we got railroads), and Irish (wuuuuuut? Look it up. The Irish were “European n-words”).

How long to melting pots take to melt? A few hundred years? Well, so far I’m not seeing much of a melt, though it is a far cry from day one, sure. Does it take forced measures of “diversity?” It shouldn’t. Capable adults should be able to recognize talent and beauty without looking at someone’s physical features, or even clothes. If you want to see real diversity, go to India. Hindus, Buddhist, Muslims all together with hijras, East Asians, Central Asians, hell, even Southern South Asians are a far cry from their Northern counterparts. So, the Third World figured it out but we, some AMAZING fucking super power can’t? Alright.

2. I’m not sure how up on the history of Judaism you are, but, man, let me tell you: those people have had it rough since, oh, 586 BCE. Skipping over the ancient bits towards the modern-ish, when Jewish people were facing some pretty serious dilemmas in European countries (not referring to WWII Germany, exactly), something Jewish people began to adopt was an idea of nationalism. At that point, being Jewish did not necessarily mean an ethnicity and certainly couldn’t mean an allegiance to a specific country (that kept getting snagged from them).

In an attempt to, I dunno, quit getting exiled from crap like Spain and everywhere else, many Jewish people began putting their nationality first, and their religion second. Not like they put YHWH on the backburner, but they began to identify themselves as Germans, French, Spaniards, and so on instead of just “Jewish.” If there is no homeland or you have adopted a new one, it’s a pretty good idea to actively identify as that nationality, right?

Ok, now, to the point. If you haven’t clicked the link above, prepare to be sickened. Yes, I realize a lot of terrible things are associated with Islam these days, but you cannot say that the whole of a religion is evil. If all Muslims thought as the ones deemed terrorists, then we would be gone. 2.2 billion Muslims on the planet. Do you honestly believe they are all out for blood? You’re kidding yourself, if you do.

Further, I keep seeing these remarks of Islam being the religion of the devil, devilish, Satanic, and so on. Did you know that Judaism developed first, then Christianity, then Islam? All three are considered Abrahamic Religions, as they trace back to Abraham (some followers so to the point that they claim to literally be the descendents of Abraham; not so much the Christians, as that is one of the huge divergences from Judaism, of course).

All the recognize Abraham and Moses and many of the same stories and figures, and all three have the same god. It’s a difference in practice, not in deity. Don’t believe me? Read a book. That’s how I found out.

Now, for this woman’s hijab being an American flag— think where else you see the flag worn as clothing. Pudgy, middle-aged White women wearing matching short sets (I can’t get the image of this out of my head; it’s a specific reference to a fairly horrifying mom-of-a-friend from high school); Harley Davidson everything, so lots of old, beardy guys on loud bikes, alright; skimpy bikinis; guys’ boxers; whoever’s briefs; ladies’ bras; dollar store bandanas; you name it, and it exists somewhere. I have never thought the American flag made great clothes, which has kind of bummed me out, but I digress.

So, now, a Muslim woman living in America is wearing an American flag hijab and the melting pot calls for her to be urinated upon? Stoned to death? Ripped of her religious garments? Shot in the head?

She wants to live in America just like your ancestors wanted to live in America. It is highly unlikely that she is making a political statement. It is more likely that she wants to belong.

Again, I recognize the many horrifying events associated with Islam. I will admit to you right now that I only have one Muslim friend (I do seclude myself, though, so I can also admit to a fairly low number of other faiths) in America. Ban Islam? Do we call for banning Catholicism every time something horrible happens that is associated with such? And that’s a pretty fucking long list, if you’d care to check. Do we call for the ban of the Baptist faith for the WBC? Nope. Hell, we even sometimes separate them from the rest, as if to deny any association with WBC and Baptists.

I’m trying to think… who was that guy who said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone…?” Thinking thinking thinking.

Slipping my mind.

Or, how about that guy who first advocated the Golden Rule? That guy is Confucius, in case you were wondering. Maybe we should quit following it… that guy was Chinese.

Advocating murder, slighting, violence, and hatred is not what this country was founded on. Get with it, guys.

Posted in Feels, Serious Post Time | 2 Comments