Saturday Mr. Dill Her0 and I, along with Danny Mac headed to Muncie. Dill and Danny were announcing a double header bout, Naptown vs. Cornfed. The bout took place in a skating rink, which I kind of love. While I enjoy derby on a grand scale, it's a lot of fun to see the smaller leagues in rec centers and roller rinks. Plus, this one was a 90's time capsule. $2 sodas and butterfly hair clips??? Amazing. Only downside is NO BEER! 


Butterfly clips! 


The first game was Naptown Warning Belles vs. Cornfed All Stars. Warning Belles are Naptowns B-team, but in all honesty, they're the equivalent of most leagues A-team. I only mention this because Cornfed won the bout, and I would hate for anyone to think "Yea, but that was an A team against a B team!". While technically true, Naptowns B team (and C team) is very, very good. Cornfed should be very pleased with themselves over their victory. They have really good communication on the track, (Pivot fOWL Play is outstanding) and jammers that were just fun to watch. (BOOMSDAY!)






The score went back and forth in the first half, then NRG started letting themselves get spread out on the track. Cornfed jammers took advantage of that mercilessly. 



Sitting with the announcers, I got a pretty cool view of the coaches in action. Of course I know NRG's coaching staff, but seeing other excellent coaches was a lot of fun. I always have an interest in the bench, having spent time coaching myself. It's neat to see the calm zen bench, vs the fierceness on the track. 





Before the bout Danny Mac had asked me if I'd ever thought about announcing, saying that I would probably be good at it. (He interviewed me once for an NRG video, and on camera, I interview fairly well.) I hadn't ever really thought about it seriously, especially since I know what an incredibly hard job announcers have. The boys convinced me I should take the mic during one of the games, so I said I would give it a shot.

I did. I gave it a shot.

Let me tell you something. Announcing is HARD. I knew going in that it was hard. I've seen all the prep work Dill does at home, discussions between announcers, watching tons of footage as they prepare for games, learning names, numbers, pronunciations and stats, but knowing and doing are two totally different things.

I had Dill right by me, giving me pointers as I announced. I didn't do too badly, but by the time I matched a girls jersey number to her name (OMG, can we PLEASE go back to names on jerseys?????) the moment would be over!

It was a lot of fun though! There was a skater named "Cosmo Pain" on Cornfed and I don't know why, but I decided that her name needed to be said like 1980's Wrestlemania. (PS- she's like a wrecking ball jammer. Watch out for her)



Seeing the Third Alarm was great. It's my first time checking them out this season, though of course I know a lot of the girls. I've watched Peyton Slamming go from stream announcer to skater, so it was great to see her as Captain of the team!

Other thoughts from the night:

Upon walking in, I had a skater know who I was and state that she had one of my books. I freaking love it when that happens! It puts me in a good mood for at least 24 hours.

I was so impressed with the number of Cornfed skaters that took the time out to thank the announcers, NSO's and refs. I know there was a recent kerfuffle over an announcer quitting derby, with much speculation over it being due to the lack of thanks and respect shown to volunteers. I can say firsthand that thank you's are way too rare in derby. It was nice to see Cornfed take a few seconds to make sure they showed their appreciation to their staff.

Strategy talk. When 2 minutes remain on the clock, and one team is down by a not unbeatable amount, say 20-30 points, the standard play always seems to be to get lead, get the points, as soon as the other jammer is coming up, call the jam. But if your team is down, and you're lead, shouldn't you just try and get as many points as you can and depend on your blockers to try and force a track cut on the other jammer? Like, make that their goal in life? Otherwise you call the jam, reset, and then the other team might get lead instead of you.
I know that I've always been coached under the theory "4-0 is better than 8-4". but I feel like ending the game with your jammer as lead, gives you the better edge.

I've only ever seen Danny Mac as a stream announcer, yet he did really well on house! (Sometimes announcers don't do well switching from one to the other) He had that perfect mix of clarity, excitement, and information that house announcers need.

The roller rink that Cornfed bouts in mixes caramel corn with regular popcorn. This is important to know. 

Dill got Pokemon tips in the parking lot. 



I promise my blog won't turn into all roller derby all the time. But I have to keep my knitting secret right now while I work on some new patterns!

xoxx

I've worked as a barista for many, many years now. It's not an easy job, despite what most people on the other side of the counter may think. And I'm going to be 100% honest with you: Your barista is totally judging you by your drink order.

Doesn't mean you shouldn't order what you want (with only a couple of exceptions)!

*** Please note that this is completely tongue in cheek!***

Black coffee = No fuss, no nonsense. We could be friends.

Flat White = You're slightly trendy, or an expat missing home.

Pour Over = You're very trendy. Borderline hipster.

Deconstructed coffee = You're so damn hipster you rode your weird, 18th century bike here wearing your boat shoes, fedora hat that doesn't really fit your head and a tank top. Also hell no. We aren't making that.

Extra hot, no foam*. Absolutely no foam = You probably have a lot of friends that talk a lot of shit about you behind your back. Also, you failed 8th grade science. But somehow, you drive a better car than me and don't need to work for a living.
*Note: No foam is fine. But extra hot no foam means you hate baristas. Like, a barista stole your barbie when you were 4 and took the head off then returned it after you complained to your mom, and they told you it was fine because they put the head back on but it made the neck about half an inch shorter and looked completely weird. Barbie was never the same. So now you relish the look of pain on the baristas face when you say "extra hot no foam" because that's the pain you went through! Now they can feel it too!

Espresso Macchiato = You appreciate quality espresso. We like you.

Chai Latte = You went through a hippie phase your freshman year of college and totally gate rushed at Woodstock.

Dirty Chai or Dirty Hippie = You're a little weird and don't care who knows it.

Blended Caramel Mocha with extra caramel, extra mocha, only 1 shot in a large with extra drizzle and extra whip = You're 13. If it's "for here" and you're meeting a bunch of friends we're giving you decaf.

Medium cappuccino with cinnamon powder in the bottom of the cup, shots next, skim milk microfoamed and extra dry = you've owned a coffee shop for 12 years and you're freaking obnoxious when you order coffee anywhere else. Also, your friends pretend they don't know you when you're ordering! (If you can't tell, this is me)





The final roller derby bout of season 10 is over and done. The Star Wars night is usually the best attended bout of the season and this seemed to be no exception. Bleachers were packed, suicide seating pretty full, and I saw them dragging more chairs out!

**Also, a quick note on a trend I was noticing. More and more parents were trying to sneak their kids into the suicide section. Including parents with infants. Like, teeny, tiny, infants. I also saw people get pissy when they were asked to move, or go right back to suicide seating once the security or team member was away from that section. Parents, the roller derby team isn't just being a jerk to you by asking you not to sit trackside. They don't hate your kids, they aren't judging you for having kids, they're trying to keep you guys safe! I've taken a skate to the gut in suicides before. It hurts. But a skate to a baby? That's not going to hurt, that's going to severely injure or even kill your child. (Not to mention the time that, as a skater, I was knocked towards an infant in a car seat in suicides. I hurt myself trying to avoid hitting the baby. If I had hit the kid I can't imagine the emotional impact it would have had on me.) So come on, don't give the team a hard time about it and try to sneak back as soon as they turn around.


photo by Greg Dunn


Both games were played against pick up teams, and it was the only unsanctioned bout of the home season.

Belles lost against the Midwest Corn Stars. It was a crazy exciting game to watch, and included this apex jump, which I swear took about 5 seconds.


photo by Greg Dunn

The talent pool on the Belles is really deep. Lots of new jammers have been emerging this season. Including Brickhouse Massacre. She was an alternate for the bout, and ended up with a very well deserved MVP award for the night. Amazing to watch, and I would bet money on her being a siren jammer next season.


Photo by Greg Dunn

Naptown has turned into a flying team the past couple of seasons. I think they spend more time in the air then on the track!


Photo by Tom Klubens


Also cartwheels. Naptown does cartwheels to avoid out of bounds penalties.

CLICK HERE TO SEE IT

The Sirens game got a little boring. It was a blowout and for the first half they just racked up the points. I had hoped that in the second half they would mix it up a little. I'm not saying take it easy on the losing team, but since it was an unsanctioned bout, I would have loved to see them throw blockers in as jammers, mix up positions, that sort of thing. I think it's a great way to cross train your girls without risking a rankings slip. (Because you can practice and scrimmage new positions all day long, but nothing is the same as actually bouting!)
Still, the last 20 minutes aside, it was an exciting game. And when you considered the sirens opponent was a team made up of retired skaters and girls that hadn't really practiced together, they did a great job!
Bambi has always been one of my favorite jammers to watch. I'm so glad that, even though she retired from Demo City, she's still skating! (For SOS, aka "Straight Outta Shape")


Photo by Tom Klubens

Music, of course, on point. I don't think NRG has ever had a bad DJ, though DJ Kyle Long is becoming one of my favorites. Probably because he plays the soundtrack of my angsty youth. He's the sort of person that you want to become friends list, just to drop hints that you need a new mix cd and "sigh" wish you had someone who would make you that sort of thing.

So excited to see what happens for playoffs this year, and for the Sirens and Naptown Roller Derby next season!





Matching manicures with my mini horse. Because who wouldn't? 


And his super sparkly black hoof!



Who needs a normal life anyway? 


Sometimes, you just need to put things out in the world. It's a running joke with my friends about how badly I want to meet Paul Auster. Some people obsess over rock stars, some over actors but for me, it’s always been writers. In this case, a writer who doesn't use social media and still writes his books on a typewriter.

I consider myself pretty well connected. I’m a writer. (Of knitting books, but hey! It counts!) I know a lot of writers, many of them very well known, very famous, and friends with a lot people. I have representation at a fairly large agency. I know multiple publicists at multiple publishing houses. Yet... no Auster connection. Believe me, I’ve asked all of them.

I'm taking my first ever trip to New York City this summer, the city where I believe Mr. Auster has spent the majority of his life. This may be the one chance I get to make my dream of meeting him happen. Despite my daydreams of just bumping into him on a corner, I've been warned that New York is in fact, quite large, and my chances of meeting him by chance are very small. With absolutely no connections, and at the advice of a friend, I'm just going to write about my desire to meet my favorite author and maybe, just maybe, someone who knows someone will see it and a magic moment will happen.

So here's what I would love to say to Paul Auster, if by chance, he does see this.


Dear Paul Auster,

I'm sure you get this every day, but your books changed my life. One book in particular, which, if you'll allow me, I'll get to.
My Dad got me a copy of "Mr. Vertigo" when I was 14. I really enjoyed it and you became one of those authors I would scan the shelves for when I went to a bookstore. When I could afford a new book, I would first look for a book by you. I loved them because they made me think. They weren’t always happy books, in fact Timbuktu made me cry so hard that while reading it in a park, a gang of Christian Harley Riders tried to offer me food and a blanket because they thought I was a runaway teen that was missing home. My jaw hit the floor the first time I read the New York Trilogy. I spent hours discussing it with my brother, who has a doctorate in theology and was equally obsessed by some of the concepts in the book. He used the phrase "linguistic construction of reality", which is proof that he is smarter than me. The Music of Chance made me so nervous for the protagonists that I was physically stressed about what was happening to them while I was at work and in between chapters. I may have taken a sick day towards the end so I could finish reading.

I picked up "The Invention of Solitude" from the library during one of the darkest points of my life. I had relapsed into an eating disorder without realizing that it had happened. I just told myself I was poor and couldn't afford to eat, not realizing I was using it as an excuse to be skinny. In hindsight, I was trying to escape myself any way that I could. Parties, music, starvation. I didn’t really want to exist.
When I read your book, it was like the world put on brakes. I read and reread that book until the cover was falling off. I couldn't bear to give my copy back to the library because even if I got a new copy at a bookstore, it wouldn't be MY copy. The copy that was changing me. I was scared some of the magic of this book would go away and I wouldn't be able to continue on this path that your book had started for me.

"Only one thing is certain: he cannot be anywhere until he is here". That line was a punch to my gut. I quit drinking to excess, I quit dating and with the exception of work I spent my days and nights holed up in a corner of my living room writing. Page after page of who I was, where I was and why I was. I most certainly was not "here". I was a girl waiting for the right guy, waiting for my band to get famous, waiting for a good job to fall into my lap. I was living in wait for a hundred potential futures, but I wasn't actually living my life.

I’m sure that your intent when writing wasn’t to tell some 19 year old, “Hey, skinny girl! Eat a sandwich and get yourself together!” but that’s what it did for me. I got myself together. I started living and repairing myself. That book wasn't just a book for me. It was a call to become a real person.

I know posting a letter and requesting to meet one of my favorite authors is a pretty easy way for me to get labeled as batshit crazy and that there’s only the slimmest chance that this effort will end in a meet and greet. However, my chances are even smaller by not posting this, so why not? Heck, I met Neil Gaiman by sending him knit octokittys as part of a superstitious good luck effort for my derby team. John Scalzi and I became friends after I helped put frosting all over his face for a charity poster. My life happens because I make an effort to make it happen. I learned that by reading your books.

So Mr. Auster, I’ll be in New York the third weekend in August. If you’re free, I’d love to buy you a beverage of your choice and say “hello” and shake your hand. If not, I hope that you at least see this letter and know how much your works have meant to me over the years.

Sincerely and with many thanks,
Joan
PS- If you’re judging me for not giving the library book back, I did lie and tell them that I lost it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to check out more books! I paid the fine so that they could buy a new one, and I only feel a small twinge of guilt when I see it on my shelf.



I hope that if you're in indy this weekend, you're here at pop con! 


I've been looking all over for Tony Stark. We've had a disagreement and need to hash things out. Couldn't find him (coward!) but I did find this pretty rad Deadpool! 


I'll be wandering around again tomorrow. If you see me, say "hi"! 
Also, for my knittas, this is the America! dress from Geek Knits. It's a size small, though I would fit much more comfortably in a medium. I'm 5'7, 140lbs on a good day, 145lbs today. Also I have so much derby booty! (Derby babies, you know that butt you're getting from derby? It never, ever goes away.) 
This dress is super friendly as far as stretch goes. But a size larger would have the length a little longer, and would give me a little more room in the upper body. Thought I would post the stats in case you want to knit this and would like some size comparisons! 

Xoxx 

About twice a year, a spike happens in sales for my first book, and I start getting questions on Ravelry and through email, so I thought I would put up a little blog post!

As many of you know, Knockdown Knits: 30 Projects from the Roller Derby Track was my very first book. (If you're local, part of my talk at Pop Con this Saturday will cover how I got published.)

I was lucky. Even though Wiley is a historically conservative publisher, they gave me a lot of freedoms, such as letting me use my team, the Naptown Roller Girls, as the models.

Of course, there were some points where the conservative publisher leanings became evident. I wanted this picture in the book:


Red Rocket and Smackie O'nassis photo by Matt Bowen

And with much fluttering of their hands the publisher went with this picture:


Photo by Matt Bowen

Which of course, is an awesome photo, so it wasn't the worst thing in the world. And honestly, I didn't realize it at the time, but for a publisher to let me come to the office, sit down, and pick out the photos I wanted for the book isn't something that happens to every author.

Although there's a lot I would love to change since I've grown as a designer and writer over the past decade, I also kind of love it as is. This little glimpse into the early days of roller derby (I think in the section talking about derby, I mention how there are "almost" 100 teams around the world and "almost" 30 WFTDA leagues!) is pretty fun.

I've had requests to do another one, and I'm not saying it's outside the realm of possibility. I have a couple of other projects that have to get finished first, but revisiting a derby knitting book would be a good time. Of course, if I do it again it would definitely involve more leagues than just NRG, especially since the requests I've done to do another come from knitting derby girls in other states who have their own pattern ideas.

And a quick note to say that when Knockdown came out, I think I was one of TWO books about derby available. Now, there are a LOT more!
Here's a list:

roller derby books




I just read this one,
and it was so dang cute I got teary eyed! I seriously love it.

And hey! I'm in this one! Screaming my head off at a ref I think.

Anyway, I thought I would put this blog up in response to my most recent question about Knockdown. Speaking of which, if you ever want to get in touch with me, comment here on the blog, or use the contact link on my site. (Or find me on twitter, facebook or instagram!)

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