Wednesday, December 14

Welcome [back] to the Jungle, Guns N Rollers fans! It's been a while. As we gear up for the 2012 season (which officially begins January 21) let's take a moment to catch up with our favorite fishnet-wearing, butt-rocking ladies in black. A lot has happened since they ended the 2011 season by imploring us not to stop believing (to Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing'). Remember that magical moment? Yeah, I heard they made people cry. In a good way.

Season 6 Wrap-Up

Here's a quick recap of how last season ended. GNR went into the Season 6 Championships ranked #4, which pitted them against the Heartless Heathers for the #3 spot. And holy crap, you guys, GNR played amazing! Our ladies played smart, played together, and managed to put into practice all the awesome things they've been working on throughout the season (but hadn't been able to use). They didn't just hang in there, they managed to shut down the Heathers for the entire first half. Sadly though, they seemed to use up all their rock'n'roll juju in the first 30 minutes and were unable to put up the fight to beat the Heathers. But let me tell you, that first half was pure magic. Very tricky, GNR, to give us just a little taste of what you're capable of, then make us wait until next season (which is, of course, this season) to see more.

The Off-Season

So here's what usually happens around the Rose City Rollers come summertime: skaters usually take a little time off, team practices are infrequent and much less demanding, basically everyone disappears for the summer until it's time to re-emerge for pre-season training. But apparently GNR couldn't wait to start buckling down and getting serious about winning in their next season. While other teams took advantage of the "optional team practice time", GNR was back in the hangar and on a weekly schedule before you could say "sweet child of mine". They gritted their teeth and dug in with renewed determination.


On December 3 the most recent seven draftees of the Guns N Rollers joined hard-rocking forces with the rookies from the Break Neck Betties to take on the visiting Southern Oregon Rollergirls from Medford. Ironically, this "rookie bout" featured some of last season's most influential skaters like the lovely Supa Sixpack and the incomparable Untamed Shrew. Roller Eclipse, Tyger Bomb, Squid Vicious, Artemis Foulmouth, and newest draftee Va Va BOOM also took the track. And what a fun game it was! Although Sixpack was a constant in the jammer rotation, everybody got some time wearing the jammer cap. Tyger even put up some serious points amid a sea of cheering and horn-throwing. We were treated to multiple all-GNR line-ups (LOVED IT!), wherein we got to witness more of the smart pack play and strategy that our ladies in fishnets have been working on in their practices. The more I see GNR play together the more I see consistency in their awesomeness. It's not just hit-and-miss anymore. During last season's time of rebuilding I saw brief glimmers of what could be a kick-ass, amazing team. This season, GNR is ready. And it's on like Donkey Kong.

Retirements (GNR 4 Life)

Itzo EZ
Guts N Bolts
Bella Massacre

New Captains

Juvie Hall
Scald Eagle

New Drafts

Braidy Punch

In Other News...

This summer Bella Massacre married PMRD's Demolition Man. It was a gorgeous affair, and we all wore 1920s garb and looked amazing.

Scald Eagle was voted MVP of Western Regionals! She has also been nominated for Derby News Network's Rookie of the Year. Voting runs Dec 19-23. Vote!

GNR is in fundraising mode for their world tour (i.e. Season 7). Show them some love and they'll show you some in return. I'll be talking more about this later. In the meantime, check out GNR's facebook page for more info. In fact, check out their page anyway. It's just cool.

Stay tuned for more news and posts from the Jungle via your humble blogger. Rock on! \m/

Friday, May 20

No, I do not hate the Heathers

I haven't posted recently because it's seemed like I'd just be saying the same thing over and over: GnR's great but they keep losing to better teams. Blah, blah, blah.

But with this weekend's bout against the Heartless Heathers coming up, several different people have asked me why I hate the Heathers, so I'd like to take this opportunity to clear things up about that.

Here's the thing: I don't really hate the Heathers.

In fact, I don't believe that I've ever said any such thing. No, I've never said that I "hate" them, certainly not that's been documented anywhere or that I can't plausibly deny. I actually have almost nothing but affection for many of them, and I think they should be congratulated for having never set anyone on fire (at least not literally) and for never having appeared at, which unfortunately can't be claimed by the GnR.

Unfortunately, however I might feel about the Heathers, we should all acknowledge that they are not without their shortcomings. Besides their admittedly cold and frosty natures, I'd like to point out that they are mean, maybe even a little bit evil. They also routinely use language that might be conservatively described as coarse, raunchy, and gruesomely explicit. And they smell.

It's true.

They stink. They reek.

They have an unpleasant odor.

The air around them is fouled.

A noxious pungency wafts from their direction. An oppressive fume precedes their appearance, and their absence leaves a rank effluvium.

The aroma of livestock and locker rooms dominates the Heathers' bouquet. Hints of caustic solvents and diesel fuel follow. It's possible to detect traces of brimstone and ash, perhaps wet dog or singed ape. The nose is reminded of childhood traumas, Victorian asylums for the criminally insane, festering wounds, and abattoirs. The harsh finish contains notes of urine and stale beer, and day-old sick lingers.

There is a stench. A funk.

With that said, I'd appreciate it if we could just put to rest this notion that I "hate" the Heartless Heathers. It's simply not true.


Note: Much of this post was not intended as a factual statement. Thank you.

Sunday, March 27

High Rollers 174, Guns N Rollers 63

It's been a busy week for me, and I've been trying to put together something coherent here about last weekend's Guns N Rollers bout against the High Rollers. My strength isn't in insightful, sportsy recap or analysis—it's in mocking stuff. But there's just not a lot about that bout to poke fun at because despite GnR losing by one hundred eleven points, I think it was some of the most fun derby I've seen.

GnR came out very strong and might have scared some of the High Rollers right out of their little green and gold pants if they weren't cinched on so tight. After that opening surge by GnR, the High Rollers buckled down, took over the bout, and held GnR to 33 points for the rest of the first period and into the second.

Despite mixing things up a bit, HRMF played to their strengths as an experienced team by opening up lanes for their jammers (often by drawing GnR's blockers to the inside and clearing the way for their jammer to pass on the outside) and by increasing the pace. Because HRMF as a team were able to maintain a pack speed that at times seemed absurdly fast, their better endurance wore out the GnR, and by weakening both GnR's offense and defense, the High Rollers were able to dominate the bout and keep an increasingly comfortable lead.

You could argue that the High Rollers kinda took it easy on the GnR: They often jammed newly drafted Illegally Blonde or rookie Napoleon Blownapart—who both burned up the track, and one of the strongest things about the High Rollers is that it's not very clear how much of that to credit to their individual skills and how much to credit to the HRMF pack work—or other skaters who rarely wear the star like Heidi Go Seek or Intensive Scare. On the other hand, regular HRMF jammers like Minstrel Psycho blocked in several jams. And they didn't roster Texine, Devaskating Deva, or Layla Smackdown.

So, the High Rollers made easy work of the Guns N Rollers—what's so much fun about that?

That initial surge from GnR—the first half of the first period—showed that they can threaten talented and more experienced teams. That the High Rollers adjusted their play to answer GnR's powerful opening says more about the High Rollers's strength than it does about GnR's weakness.

Scald Eagle is a blast to watch, but she's not the only jammer GnR has. Everyone but Handsome George loves to watch Scald twist, juke, and hop while she jams ("crazy and reckless," I think one skater called it), but she picks up lots of minors crashing through the pack. I remember her being "poodled" to clear her minors at least once, and while there's certainly short-term gains in jamming her as often as she can, I think she's potentially more effective as a blocker.

It's not as spectacular, but Scald can move just as easily through the pack as a blocker, which means that she can wall up in front, knock your skater out of bounds, stop dead and force her to re-enter play at the back of the pack, then skip to the front wall and do it again to another skater. Because that tactic can recycle an opposing jammer just as well as it can open a hole for her own jammer to skate through, I hope that with a little more experience, GnR's jamming will regularly fall to other skaters—including strong newcomers like Supa Sixpack and Untamed Shrew, and recently returned Guts & Bolts, the three of whom shared the bulk of the bout's jamming duties with Scald—and the Eagle won't be seen as GnR's "go to" jammer. Besides, that everyone goes both ways is just another one of the many joys of roller derby.

While the High Rollers were reliably able to shunt GnR's blockers out of the way of their jammers for the second half of the first period and for the first half of the second period, I was happy to see that GnR understood what was going on and was able to adjust to it. In fact, GnR constantly adjusted their line-ups, trying out different combinations of blockers and jammers.

Sure, I confess, I groaned at more than a few GnR blunders, but it doesn't take much to put those mistakes into context. Yes, Juvie Hall got surprised more than once by a HRMF jammer passing her on the outside. But as the outside skater of a three-skater wall, Juvie was being drawn inside with the other two skaters in that wall. I'd much rather see her stay in position relative to her teammates and force that jammer around all three of them than see her drawn out of position and allow an opening for the jammer to slip through. And as Juvie's and her teammates' pack awareness keeps improving, so will GnR's communication, and that blocker formation will get more and more nimble.

And yes, there were too many instances where the GnR jammer was trapped for too long behind a front wall of High Rollers. But when I recognized that Supa Sixpack or Untamed Shrew were skating in their first bout for GnR and that wall of High Rollers includes Hurricane Skatrina (former WoJ) and Intensive Scare (current RCR President—that'll make you think twice about how you want to hit her!), I'll accept that the Shrew or Sixpack might need some help there.

Still my favorite thing about this GnR team is how individual skaters rarely stand out. Past GnR teams have had trouble putting their individual skills together in winning combinations. (And I mean "winning" here in a literal points-scoring kind of way not in some high priest Vatican assassin warlock Charlie Sheen kind of way.)

Aside from Scald Eagle, no individual skaters really call much attention to themselves—and no one would really notice Scald if she weren't 6'9" tall—and I mean that in a good way. It makes it difficult to comment on how well any one skater is playing because you have to pay close attention to them. There are individual explosions of brilliance, sure, but on the whole, GnR's play isn't built around a few super-charismatic skaters or flashy hits (no, that's not a Harmicist reference) but on solid pack-work instead. And it's the High Rollers own pack play that's made them so strong—in my opinion, their most valuable skaters are all primarily blockers: Layla, Heidi, Scare, and Hurricane Skatrina—and it's what they used to beat the GnR last weekend and to win last season's championship.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this GnR team skates against the Overbeaters Anonymous at their fund-raising bout this Friday. Party-mix teams like this tend to be all about individual efforts because they don't have experience skating with other, so I'm excited to find out how well GnR works together against them. (You can get info at the RCR website.)

Just one more thing: I don't think there should be any disparaging remarks about the cowbell after Texine and Layla honked on those vuvuzelas all through the bout. (And, no, the fabulous green dresses don't balance things out.)

So would someone mind getting the cowbell out of the WoJ merch box and giving it back to me? I promise, I won't beat it near you.

Thanks! :)

\m/ \m/


Thursday, March 17

More New Skaters

Itzo EZ returned to GnR when she was drafted last Thursday!

She's still reffing, and so is Breakneck Betties skater Scrappy Go Lucky. There's also a rumor that newly re-drafted Betty D.Konstructor may try the skater-ref multiclass thing too, which is even better, in my opinion, than the very popular Fighter-Thief multiclass. Both referee and skater cultures should benefit from those sorts of inter-relations, I think.

Besides EZ, GnR also drafted Untamed Shrew (whose name really is "Kate"!) and a skater who may, I believe, be called Artemis Foulmouth (Teen-aged criminal genius? Profanity spewing? I like her already. And sound like a pedophile. :/ )

Also in this draft round, Lt. Uhurta and Baccha Nailya went to the Heartless Heathers; D.Konstructor returned to the Betties; and High Rollers picked up Illegally Blonde and Skeeve Holt! (exclamation mark required—Skeeve Holt!). I can't be as excited as actual Betties fans to see DK back on skates, but I am very excited about that. And as I'm contractually obligated to find the Heathers slimy and gross, I am very disappointed to see fine skaters like Uhurta (add your own "Hailing frequencies open, sir" jokes) and Nailya forced to join the stinkiest, coldest, and bluest team in the league.

Raised Lighter
Skeeve Holt! in particular needs to be recognized for her kind actions to prevent me from further sullying the reputation of the Wheels of Justice and to save everyone else in attendance at Wild West Showdown from my annoying and generally obnoxious drunkenness.

In an unusual instance of foresight, I had written a noteBe Nicenote to myself earlier in the day, and there is some evidence that I'd managed to follow my sober self's advice—Cherry City's Squid Vicious says that I gave her a beer—for at least a few hours. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought that I might actually become completely illiterate before dark, and that, I think, may have been the true flaw in my plan. By the time the bout between Rose and Rat had started, my brain was so completely dissolved in alcohol that if you'd unscrewed the top of my head, poured ice and some kind of mixer into my skull, and stirred it all up, you would have had a batch of strong cocktails for you and a handful of friends. Me, I'll believe pretty much anything you want to tell me about that bout.

Smack Ya Sideways was ejected? Didn't see it.

Sat next to Effy Stone 'Em? Don't remember seeing her at all that weekend.

While I can't recall any specifics (surprise!), I do have a nagging suspicion that I was an obnoxious prick to pretty much everyone around me, and so it was that Dr. Snark N. Stein transformed into the not-quite evil (but definitely annoying) Dr. Drunk N. Stein.

And here the noble and kind Skeeve Holt! (Skeeve Holt!) and fellow (at the time) Fresh Meat skater Indigo Hurls intervened. They took my keys, took my car, took me back to my hotel, and sent me to bed before I could further embarrass myself or the Rose City Rollers. I've heard that the after-party was excellent!

In better news, congratulations to skaters Joyride (Betties), Mercy (Heathers—boo!), and Scald Eagle (GnR—huzzah!), who have been added to the Wheels of Justice roster as well as the AoA one. (Spots were freed up when Firecrotch moved from skating to coaching for the travel team and when Honey Hellfire stepped down from the travel team roster.)

One more thing: I may owe Intensive Scare a drink. I was going to share my bourbon with her at WWS on Saturday night, but she was upstairs, and stairs were an insurmountable obstacle for me. (Dr. Drunk N. Stein, it turns out, is very easily defeated.)

Also, a second more thing: If I got drunk and misplaced the cow bell, to whoever found it and kept it safe, I say "Thank you!" If on the other hand, the cow bell was confiscated, to whoever took it from me and has since hidden it, I tell you that I'm sure you made the right decision, and I support it.

\m/ \m/


Thursday, February 10

Another Rumor

I'll let Scald and Reina take it from here.

Scald Eagle and Rolla Reina

Photo by Lisa Burke.

Yup. That's the rumor I've heard too.

\m/ \m/


Tuesday, February 8

Itzo EZ: Fresh Meat

You may have heard the rumors: Itzo EZ is back on Fresh Meat.

Unfortunately, this is only partially true.

Let me explain:

Itzo EZ is on Fresh Meat. But this is, in fact, her first time on Fresh Meat.

You see, EZ is not only a founding GnR, but she's a founding Rose City Rollers skater, so back when EZ joined up, a lot of things were different. There was no Fresh Meat. No drafts. No helmets. (There may not have been an actual "Rose City Rollers.") And while EZ has been reffing since she retired from GnR two seasons ago, she's decided to stop talking about what it might be like to come back as a skater and go ahead and do it, so she's signed on to Fresh Meat for the first time ever.

(All of the pics here are, I believe, from Season 2. Wrench and Rolla ReinaWrench and Rolla Reina

Axl Blows, always a bargain at $50. Wrench and Rolla Reina watch from the bench.

Photo by Skippy Steve.

Wrench and Rolla Reina are skating against the Sockit Wenches, and I think Blood Clottia is sitting with the Betties during the GnR v. Heathers boutItzo EZ v. Heartless Heathers

GnRs Jett Scream, Peril Lust (?), and Itzo EZ skate against the Heathers Sump Pump and Goodie Two Skates.

Photo by Skippy Steve.

GnR v. Heathers bout. Skippy Steve has lots of early RCR pics—check out his SmugMug galleries!)

As I understand it, she plans to keep working as an official even after she gets drafted by a league team. (God, I hope that team is GnR!) I don't understand how being both a skater and a ref works, but I'll accept that she and the league have that worked out. I don't think we can ever have too many good refs, so despite my tendency to quibble and raise objections at every opportunity, however the league has worked that out, it works for me.

And if it works for her, let's see a bunch of skaters put on the stripes. What can it hurt? Skaters often appreciate officials who have been skaters themselves, and seeing the sport from the other side of the line will probably help skaters in their own bouts.

So just how soon is EZ draft eligible? :D

\m/ \m/


Friday, February 4

Wheels of Justice v. Detroit Derby Girls

Detroit? Check.


Thursday, February 3

GnR v. Betties: Scald Eagle Does Not Breathe Fire

So. The Guns N Rollers lost to the Break Neck Betties last weekend in the first bout of the Rose City Rollers home season. Not much of a surprise there. But I'm going to focus on the positive here, which, I must admit, is contrary to my nature.

One of the night's high points came early, and it was the daughter of Awnry O'Hulligan stepping up at the last minute to sing the national anthem. While we've had some strong renditions of the national anthem (I'm thinking of Minstrel and Mr. Psycho recently), we've also had some pretty weak ones. Even accounting for Little O'Hulligan's moment of panic and lyrical forgetfulness, hers would have been among the strong renditions even if she'd been called on ahead of time—that she was asked just a few minutes beforehand puts it clearly in the win.

Next I have to applaud GnR's choice of uniform: the black rocker tees and denim skirts or shorts is my favorite GnR boutfit. It's easily varied and customized by each skater but stays uniform enough to be a uniform without being sporty (which, I think, clashes with the rocker aesthetic). I was glad to see it back.

And then there was Scald Eagle's debut.

I was going to leave it pretty much at that, but after George's analysis rant over at the Heartless Heathers blog, it seems that some response here is in order.

I am not a physician, so I cannot guess at what humorous imbalance so distresses George that he devolves into paroxysms of fear and revulsion, flop sweat, or fits of spontaneous barking whenever he encounters a woman wearing any combination of animal print, rocker tee, mouth guard, or black. But I hope he seeks professional help soon. (Please pass along your to him your recommendations of knowledgeable surgeons, apothecaries, leeches, barbers, or the like.)

Regardless of George's disease, his complaints seem to boil down to two three things: Scald Eagle fails to live up to her hype, rookies make lots of rookie mistakes, and GnR still exists.

Allow me to respond point by point.

One. What hype? I'd heard that Scald is a promising rookie with lots of raw talent who would be exciting to watch develop as a skater. And that's exactly what I saw Saturday night. She showed some explosive bursts of speed and sure-footed navigation through the pack as a jammer. Her experience is with ice hockey, so she's still getting a feel for how skates work with wheels on them instead of blades. She's got legs, and as the poet says, she knows how to use them, and I think it will be exciting to see her skills and especially her tactics improve.

George, on the other hand, appears to have heard that Scald Eagle is the second coming of Ronnie James Dio and expected her to arrive wielding Excalibur in one hand and an M1911 automatic pistol (with custom grips and inscribed "vindicta mihi") in the other, wrapped in Old Glory, riding an Ancient Red Dragon, leading an army of saber-toothed tigers and zombies, breathing fire, and singing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

When she failed to breathe fire or sing, George declared her a disappointment. (George, why do you hate America? And dragons?) And if that was the hype, then yes, Scald Eagle failed to live up to it.

Two. Rookies do tend to make rookie mistakes. This is not unusual or worth special comment. This is expected.

Three. GnR still exists. It's mostly a team of rookies. One of those rookies is Scald Eagle, and it looks like she'll be pretty good. I suggest that George talk to Rocket Mean about ridding RCR of GnR. Just click here and send.

Please, don't make me lay out the whole bit about jammers not winning bouts and how they're not the quarterbacks or even running backs, they're the ball, okay? GnR's failings against the Betties were about their difficulty playing offense and defense simultaneously against a much more experienced team and about their 14-skater roster tiring out after being knocked around by the Betties' 16 skaters.

Now, I do need to regret some errors in judgment I made in some of my track-side comments:

Soulfearic Acid is neither clumsy nor slow. I was mistaken about that.

Domesticated Violence is not fat. Instead of DeeVeeDomesticated ViolenceDeeVee, I must've been thinking of Heavy D (admit it, those names do sound quite a bit alike). You know, Heavy DHeavy DHeavy D? Of Heavy D And The Boyz? Exactly.

On the other hand, Joyride does make me sad when she scores lots of points against GnR.

Also, I stand by my assertion that Shove Me TenderShove Me Tender

Shove Me Tender needs more pants.

Photo by Lisa Burke.

Shove Me Tender needs more pants. Shove says that there are no pants that can contain her "awesomeness," but let me direct your attention to this 1964 Frederick's Of Hollywood catalog in which at least several Shove-awesomeness-containing items may well be found. Perhaps something from this page? Or something here? Or maybe here?

Let me say one final thing about GnR here. I don't miss the winning very much at all really. Which may be because it was always pretty intermittent.

What I miss most is the gay.

GnR, please bring more gay. Thank you.

\m/ \m/


Thursday, January 27

How Long Will The Beatings Continue?

In the last post here, I tried to explain where all the GnRs from last season went and where all these new GnRs we've got this season came from. Now let's try to work out why in both opening bouts the GnRs looked like they were getting shaken down for their lunch money by the playground bully.

And here's a hint: while GnR had thirteen skaters retire during the off-season, the other three teams didn't see nearly as many of their skaters leave.

Let me really clear right now about those retirees: I can't fault any of them for choosing to retire. Rose City Rollers skaters are both very competitive and very skilled, but they still play this game entirely for fun. And they don't do it for free—they actually pay to do it. They pay dues to the league and put in required volunteer hours. They pay for their own equipment (just a decent pair of skates and wheels runs a couple hundred bucks). They pay for their required liability insurance. And they practice something around 15 hours a week on top of working a job (which doesn't always provide insurance coverage in the event of a not-uncommon injury), going to school, or being partners or parents. So when a skater makes the difficult decision to give up derby to make room for the other obligations in her life, the only decent responses are things like: "Thank you so much!" or "We'll miss watching you on the track!" So there's that.

GnR has a team of talented and dedicated skaters, but being short two skaters on their rosters makes everything harder right from the start. In their first scramble bout at the Coliseum, GnR rotated through three jammers (Punchkin, Havana Good Time, and Guts & Bolts) while the Heathers rotated five (Blast Unicorn, Sol Train, TeqKillya, Twat Rocket, and White Flight). The more you skate, the more you get tired. The more you get hit, the more you get even more tired, and jammers wear a big "Hit me!" sign on their heads. And the more you get tired, the easier you are to hit and knock down. And, well, you can probably see how this goes. :/

And despite having talented and dedicated skaters, GnR just doesn't have the experience that the other three league teams have. Putting aside the temptation to focus on jammers as derby's point-scorers, the game happens in the pack: moving your jammer through the pack while stopping the opposing jammer from doing the same thing is how a team scores points. Doing both of those at the same time takes a nimble awareness of not only where all the skaters are at any moment but also a prescient sense of where all the skaters will be as a result of everyone's current actions. Simply what's happening in the pack eludes me pretty much all the time, and I'm sitting track-side and can see the whole pack all at once. Knowing where all the skaters are, what they're doing, and where they're going to be in a few seconds is hard. Not hard like long division—hard like going to the moon. It takes practice and experience as an individual skater and together as a team. And it's that experience that left GnR with those thirteen retired skaters.

As a completely rough, approximate, wholly inaccurate, not particularly meaningful comparison that nevertheless points in the direction of perhaps revealing something about differences in experience, let's look at the balance of travel team skaters among the teams.

Out of the thirty skaters that currently make up the Wheels of Justice and Axles of Annihilation, GnR has three—Punchkin, Bella Massacre, and Havana Good Time—all of them on AoA, the "B" team. You shouldn't even have to do the arithmetic to see that the other teams are going to have roughly "more," but let's look at their rosters anyway.

First up, the Heartless Heathers, who GnR played first at the Coliseum scramble. By my count, the Heathers only have four travel team skaters: The Blast Unicorn, Firecrotch, Twat Rocket, and White Flight (three WoJ—FC, Twat, and Whitey—and one AoA—BU). But they also have these former travel team skaters chartered: Butcher Block, D-Day, Sol Train, and TeqKillya. That's eight current or former travel team skaters on the Heathers. And that's one more than the number of skaters GnR has who skated last season (seven). It's that sort of difference in experience we're looking at.

The High Rollers, who GnR skated against for their second scramble bout, have eight current travel team skaters: Devaskating Deva, Heidi Go Seek, Honey Hellfire, Layla Smackdown, and Minstrel Psycho (WoJ); Mia Feral, Napoleon Blownapart, and Texine (AoA). They also have two former travel team skaters—Hurricane Skatrina and Wreck Deckard—for ten skaters with travel team experience.

Finally, GnR skates against the Break Neck Betties on Saturday night at the hangar, and the Betties have four current —Joyride, Push La Tush, Shove Me Tender, and Soulfearic Acid (Acid is on WoJ, the others AoA)—and four former—Domesticated Violence, Leet Speaking Missile, MaRollin' Monroe, and Scrappy Go Lucky—for a total of eight skaters with travel team experience.

Like I said earlier, this isn't some statistically significant, multiple linear regression kind of analysis. Some of the skaters are brand new to the travel teams (like GnR's Havana Good Time); others have been injured or have come back from retirement (like TeqKillya), and it's problematic to compare them now to before. So I don't want to hear whiny crap about how it's unfair to say that skater Eksie Whysie gives her team a real advantage—I'm saying it right now: it's not fair. Or accurate. Or anything.

The point here is that the Heathers, the High Rollers, and the Betties each have more "travel team" skaters than GnR has skaters who skated last season. And that's a big damned hill to climb.

So why did so much of the GnR bouts look like this?

Because that's Havana Good Time in her second bout. And that's D-Day skating in her sixth season.

Can we look forward to a bunch more of this? Probably. And that sucks.

But here are some things that don't suck.

That really really really don't suck.

The GnRs skated hard through every one of the thirty minutes of their bout with the Heathers. While they might have indulged in some "Eye of the Tiger" fantasies about the plucky underdogs pulling through in the end, Sol Train, D-Day, and their teammates knocked them down, kicked them around a bit, set them on fire, and when they'd burned out, they took a shit on the ashes. Which is pretty bad.

So after that, the GnRs might have lost some of their enthusiasm when they skated against the High Rollers. (Really, who wants to get set on fire twice in the same night?) Instead, they put on Blood Clottia's and Mel Mangles's unitards (I think Havana already had her own unitard \m/ ) and played every one of the more than thirty minutes of that bout too. I know it was more than thirty minutes because in her excitement (skating a new season! and in the Memorial Coliseum!), Hurricane Skatrina forgot to call off the final jam when the period clock had expired. Everyone was having so much fun starting a new season—and skating in the Memorial Coliseum!—and she just kept skating and skating through the pack again and again. Skatrina is one of my (many) favorite skaters, and I can't imagine she'd gloat or rub it in a little, would sheHurricane Skatrinawould she? (And if she did, I'll forgive it for Layla Smackdown's toe-tapping, looks like she really has to go pee, "I love you, High Rollers" little dance.)

No, the GnRs never quit. And they never gave into frustration, or lost their heads, or started trying to hit whoever was closest whatever the cost. Those sorts of issues have stalked GnR teams of the past like a 12-year-old with a bad crush, a new cell phone, and unlimited texting. But I didn't see any of those things.

I saw well-executed hits, solid teamwork, and a never-say-die attitude. And so did lots of the other skaters, especially on the Heathers and High Rollers. Just ask them.

So I won't be surprised if the Betties outscore the GnR on Saturday.

But I will be surprised if the Betties outplay them.

\m/ \m/