But the Internet is a funny thing, and while the family and I were away on vacation a couple of weeks ago, Brandi Garner (Charity Liaison for OCKRD) found my post and responded to it. Within a day or two several OKCRD skaters including Mya Oh Mya, Kitty VonKlobber, Suzy SINsation, and the Blonde Brawler had also responded. All of their comments essentially said the same things: “thank you for coming,” “the half-time break is not usually that long,” and “please come again.” I also had an e-mail in my inbox from the one and only Princess Mayhem, inviting us to come back. And when someone named Princess Mayhem sends you free tickets to a roller derby event, to prevent from being beaten up by a gang of roller derby broads, I believe it is in one’s best interest to attend said event — and so I did.
Shortly before leaving the house, I saw the following flyer on Facebook:
Also on Facebook I saw the following link to a newspaper article:
I had no idea at that time (a) what exactly those were, or (b) that in a few hours, I would own them.
Anyway, back to the roller derby.
Mason and I arrived fifteen minutes before the bout began and found a couple of seats. There are no bad seats at the Farmer’s Market for watching roller derby bouts, unless you are hoping to take pictures … which I was. At the last bout we attended in March the sun was already on its way down when the bout began. This time around it was still bright and sunny outside, which made taking pictures of the left hand side of the track (at least until the sun went down) almost impossible. And since the left hand side of the track was where the girls were skating toward me, and the right hand side of the track was where they were skating away from me, for the first half of the match the only clear pictures I could take were of the girls’ backsides. I’m really not a pervert. Blame the setting sun, not me.
As was the case during our previous visit, the bout started right on time. Unlike the last bout we attended in which the girls from Oklahoma battled a team from Texas, this past weekend it was Okies vs. Okies as the Tornado Alley Rollergirls faced off against the Lightning Broads.
One of my complaints about the previous event we attended was that, for “derby virgins” such as ourselves, the rules were difficult to follow. Friday night’s bout kicked off with a brief introduction to the rules. I think they may have done the same thing the last time too, but now, having sat through an entire game, everything made much more sense. Mason and I even found ourselves explaining things to some of the people around us. It’s not that complicated, once you’ve watched a couple of bouts.
Like last time, roller girls (and I assume their friends) had a bake sale and a very reasonably-priced bar. Items at the bake sale were a dollar each. A bottle of beer and a can of Coke combined was $5. At last week’s Oklahoma Video Game Expo, bottles of water were $3.50 at the event center, so I thought these prices were extremely affordable. Also this time there was a “waitress” (I guess you would say) who would roll to the bar, get your drinks, and then deliver them to where you were sitting. So not only did Mason and I get a couple of inexpensive drinks, but we got them delivered to us in the stands. That was a great addition on their part.
Soon the first half was over and attention shifted from the derby track to some life-size body casts on display over in front of the DJ booth.
Each of the casts had been created by (and most of them decorated by) one of ten roller girls in attendance. The busts were created for breast cancer awareness, and were being auctioned off during halftime. On the bottom right, you can plainly (plainly!) see the “pair” that I had also seen linked to in the newspaper article on Facebook.
After a few minutes in which people were allowed to check out the casts, one by one, the girls who had made them picked them up, posted with them a bit, and auctioned them off. I didn’t pay too close attention to the selling prices, but I don’t think any of them sold for less than a hundred dollars. I should have been paying more attention, but to be honest I couldn’t take my eyes off of the, uh, “Twins” there. So when they finally came up for auction, I decided I must own those twins. All in the name of breast cancer awareness, of course.
The creator and owner of the “Twins” was “Rach-El Diablo,” “diablo” apparently being Spanish for “d-cup”. Several bids and at least one “how am I going to explain this to my wife” moments later, I proudly had my hands on Rach-El Diablo’s boobs. (The fake ones, of course.)
One thing you can’t tell in the photo is the baseball is signed by some/most/all (?) of the members of the Tornado Alley Rollergirls.
Once the auction was over, it was time for the second half of the bout. While Mason and I made our way through a round of drinks and cupcakes, the girls hip-checked one another into oblivionn, repeatedly knocking girls out of bounds and, in one case, into the base of the bleachers. We could feel the thud from where we were sitting, several rows up. While this roller derby league isn’t the over-the-top, schtick-filled circus of days past, these girls are out there doing it for real.
After a full hour of banging in to one another, the orange-clad Thunder Alley Rollergirls pulled out the victory over the blue-wearing Lightning Broads, 150-139. Because we had left early last time, we missed two things that happen at the end the game. The first of which is, both teams skate a lap around the track, high-fiving fans who come out of the stands.
The second part is, after that, the girls hang around the venue, posing for pictures, meeting people, and shaking the hands of fans. At this point I got to personally thank Princess Mayhem (on the left) for mailing me the tickets. Eliza JukesYou (right) swooped in for the photo as well.
And so, at least for now, the Twins have been relegated to the upstairs den, above the television. “My own leg lamp,” so to speak. I’m not sure how long they’ll stay up there or where they’ll eventually end up, but for now, that’s where they are.
One thing I wanted to address was a couple of the complaints I made about the previous bout we attended. At that bout, I said that the half-time break (even though it was a fundraising event) was too long, and that there wasn’t anything else during that time for our kids to do. At Friday night’s event, the half-time break was around 30 minutes long (completely appropriate, I thought) and still allowed the organization to raise a lot of money (I believe over a thousand dollars!) for charity. And, while the auction was going on, face painting and sign making tables were available to entertain the kids. I thought OKCRD did a much better job this time around. The break was much more enjoyable this time, and you could tell that the organization made some positive changes to the way things were handled. So, kudos to them for making a good event great!!
Thanks again to Princess Mayhem for the tickets, Rach-El Diablo for the “bust”, and all the roller girls for their hard work. We will see you at the July 21st bout at Farmer’s Market!
I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is beardie.
A bit scraggly in this photo, I have been growing beardie for essentially this entire NBA season, from around Christmas time until, well, today. Here are some of the nice things my wife has said about beardie:
“You look like you’re homeless.”
“You make too much money to look like that.”
“There’s milk in your beard and it smells funny.”
(That last one was from this morning.)
With the NBA season now over I had run out of excuses, and this morning I did the inevitable.
Rarely can a person determine the outcome of a professional basketball game by a single shot, much less the first one. But in Game 5 of the NBA finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, when LeBron James (as he has done before) waltzed through a crowd of defenders and threw down a monstrous dunk, I turned to Mason and said, “It’s over.” The score was 2-0, Miami.
Of course we, the Thunder fans, had to endure two-and-a-half more hours of pummeling before facing the inevitable truth; at least this year, the Thunder had no answer to LeBron James’ Miami Heat. After winning game one, it felt like the Thunder were not only a step, but an entire game behind the Heat. Miami adjusted their attack in game two and overcame the Thunder. In game three, it felt like we were doing what we should have done in game two. In game four, we were playing game three. And in game five … hell, in game five, there were times when it felt like we weren’t playing at all. I’m sure the Thunder learned a lot of lessons during their 2012 playoff run, but if there was one thing we all learned, it’s that you can’t spot a team (much less the Eastern Conference Champions) 20+ points and expect to come back.
It appeared that the Thunder’s game plan was to not let LeBron James beat them. To that end, they double teamed him every time he was within half a mile of the paint. This left Miller and Battier open outside the arc, which the Heat reminded the Thunder of by dropping 14 3-point shot in Game 5. That’s not just incredible, it’s a playoff record. By focusing on James’ layups, they forgot about his passing ability; in a sense, their efforts to stop James from beating them allowed James to beat them.
There was a lot of talk of bad calls in the finals, calls that went in James’ favor. And not just talk by Thunder fans (let’s face it, that’s what sports fans do). CBS News recently ran an article titled In an NBA Finals full of 50-50 calls, LeBron is winning 100 percent of the time. Even the ABC commentators during the game repeatedly made reference to “phantom fouls,” calls that went in the Heat’s favor that even using slow-motion replay, they could not spot. I try not to let sports-based conspiracy theories cloud my enjoyment of the game, but there were definitely times throughout the series when it felt like the league had already decided that this was James’ year to win the title and they weren’t going to let actually playing the games get in the way of that. Late in Game 5, Derek Fisher grabbed LeBron James, committing a hard foul to prevent the shot. Fisher walked away with a Flagrant One foul; how dare he stop the (self-proclaimed) “king” from dunking on him?
Derek Fisher is 6’1″ and weighs 210 pounds. LeBron James is 6’8″, and 250 pounds. I sure hope LeBron James is okay.
The most disappointing part of losing the Finals isn’t losing; it’s that, while on a national stage, the people I’ve been raving about the Thunder to didn’t get a chance to see how good our team is. Based on their performance against the Heat, people (and rightly so) have begun questioning how the Thunder made it to the Finals and what they were doing there.
All I can say is the Thunder is a great team. They’ve given us, Oklahoma, a reason to be proud. And, they’re young. Durant and Westbrook, both of whom have signed for 5 years, are 23 years old. Harden, the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year, is just 22.
Here’s a picture of me when I was 22:
In my defense I was running around the house pretending to be a homeless garbage collector. Still, point taken.
The thing is, when you’re an Okie — and make no mistake, the Thunder players are Okies — you play with style and class, even when you’re losing. Other than Fisher’s horrible mistake of trying to block James from dunking, there were no hard or flagrant fouls, no technical fouls out of frustration. The Thunder continued to play. Even when they were losing, even when all legitimate hope was lost, they continued to play with dignity.
Can the same be said for the Whore of Akron? With three minutes left in the game the Heat’s starters stood on the sidelines, laughing and clapping and cheering. Whoever said “money can’t buy happiness” isn’t a fan of professional sports.
“It’s about damn time,” LeBron James said, in regards to the victory. Yes, the victory that was owed to “the king.” After watching LeBron James on the basketball court, I can tell you that he is definitely one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen on the court. It’s too bad a championship ring still can’t make the guy likable.
So now all the ex-Seattle fans can be happy we lost, and all the Cleveland fans can stay mad that LeBron got what he wanted by abandoning them. Seems like a lot of negativity to me. Me, I’m going to focus on the positive, what what the Thunder did this year. Their third year in the league (last year), they made it to the playoffs. Their fourth year in the league (this year), they made it to the finals. To get there, they beat the returning champions (the Dallas Mavericks) in round one, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in round two, and the team with the best record in the west and undefeated (at that point) in the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder had an amazing run, are an amazing team, and we look forward to a rematch next year against the Miami Heat in next year’s finals (that is, assuming that a healthy Chicago doesn’t squash them).
Thanks for an amazing year, Thunder. See you in 2013.
This weekend marked the 9th annual Oklahoma Video Game Expo (OVGE) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I attended the first show in 2003 as a spectator, but have participated as a presenter (almost) every year since then.
Along for the ride this year were my friends Robb and Steve, who I previously mentioned flew in from Colorado and New York (respectively) to attend the show. Robb Sherwin is, among other things, the author of the award winning interactive fiction game Cryptozookeeper. Steve and Robb have known each other since the BBS days.
Photo by Brandon Staggs
Since our local NBA team (the Oklahoma City Thunder) are currently in the NBA Finals, I decided to go with a basketball theme this year.
Due to a slight table misconfiguration I only ended up with one table instead of two this year, but we made it work by just cramming everything together and leaving a few things under the table. From left to right we had my NES playing Double Dribble, my (blue development) PlayStation running NBA Showtime, and my Commodore 64 running a couple of different games, including One on One and Street Sports Basketball. I wouldn’t say I had the most popular table at the convention, but lots of sports fans stopped by to play a few quick games of basketball. At the table I also had a playlist of basketball-related songs and sports anthems going throughout the day, playing songs like “Basketball Jones,” “We Will Rock You,” and of course the parody song “Beard Like Harden.” I apologize to the people across the aisle from me who got bombarded with this music all day long.
Along with all the console and computer games available to buy and play, there were also several pinball machines and arcade games set up to play at the show. These are machines that are brought in by private owners and set up for people to play for free all day long. They’re a great hit every year and really add to the show.
Besides games, there were a lot of other game-related items on display and up for sale, including these animation cells over at Drew Stone’s table. I probably should have bought one of these when I had the chance.
Photo by Earl Green
You may notice that I’ve had to borrow a few photos from my friends Brandon and Earl for this post. That’s because, before I knew it, the show was winding down. I only got out from behind my table a few times, and when I got home I found I had only taken a dozen or so photographs … so I went to Facebook and borrowed a few from other people. I added the ones I took to my photo album of the show along with theirs, renaming them to give them proper credit.
Photo by Earl Green
Photo by Earl Green
Although OVGE is pretty console gaming-centric, Ed Martin brought another giant stack of retro Apple computer hardware, along with an impressive spread of classic boxed text adventures.
Several local groups and websites were on hand this year, including Nintendo Okie who did a live podcast from the show. They did a decent job of capturing some of the in-show action going on throughout the day.
Brandon Staggs also uploaded this video of OVGE 2012 to YouTube. He did a great job of capturing all of the booths there. You can catch my basketball-themed table just after the 2:30 mark.
Thanks to everybody who came out to OVGE this year and everyone who stopped by and said hey. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of OVGE, and I know people are already talking about what they will be bringing to next year’s show. I know I am!
The 9th Annual (wow!) Oklahoma Video Game Expo (OVGE) will take place this Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As always, I and some friends will have a table set up and once again the entire hall will be filled with people buying, selling, and playing video games.
At my table this year, I will be joined by two friends: award-winning Interactive Fiction author Robb “Ice Cream Jonsey” Sherwin, and the creator of the infamous remote controlled phone video, Steve “Aardvark” Davis. Additionally, I will be sharing a bit of table space with Charles “Ubikuberalles” Pearson, who will be showing off some of his game-related creations.
To attend this show, Sherwin is flying in from Denver, Colorado; Davis, from New York; and Pearson, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you enjoy old video games and live closer to Tulsa, Oklahoma than any of those guys, you should make an attempt to be there.
Anyone who hasn’t been to one or is on the fence about attending can check out my photo albums. I have pictures of the shows going back to the first year (2003).
Here’s a picture of my table from last year, where Sherwin, my friend Jeff, and I ran a table dedicated to text adventures. At the show we had text adventures running on a Commodore 64, an Apple II, an Amiga, a DOS machine, an ancient portable TRS-80, and even an iPad.
Speaking of my buddy Jeff, he has since moved out of state and won’t be able to attend this year’s show. While Jeff tries to stay behind the scenes, he is the one that keeps me organized and makes stuff happen. For the past five years, Jeff has been the one who helped me watch my table when I had to run to the bathroom or free me up when I was mingling with visitors, who helped me set up and break down my displays, and keep things running smoothly. Jeff has been an integral part of my displays for the past five years, and will sorely be missed. I will be pouring out a bottle of Croyn Royal Black on the ground in honor of his absence. (I would never actually do that; Jeff would kill me for wasting good Crown like that!)
Last Fall when we moved into our new house, our cable provider offered us a free upgrade for four months. The free upgrade gave us essentially every channel package except for some of the movie channels — hardly an issue, as between Netflix, Redbox and other sources, I have more than a lifetime’s worth of movies at my disposal.
The catch to this free gift is that the packages aren’t automatically cancelled at the end of the trial period. And for four months we watched them all, or as many of them as we could. We watched the Game Show Network, the NBA channel, the BBC channel, and so many more.
Then the trial period ended and our cable bill jumped to $180. That doesn’t included Internet, either — $180 a month for cable television. Just as cancelling channels is the opposite of adding channels, the process of cancelling channels was the opposite of adding them as well. Gone were the friendly voices that were there to add the channels; in fact, after 5pm, you can’t cancel anything at all. And before 5pm, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be on hold until after 5pm.
After much persistence (and some begging on their part) the packages were removed. Bye bye, Game Show Network! Bye bye, MTV South America! Bye bye, Telemundo in HD!
So sad; now we are down to 400 channels, and somehow our Caller ID channel (yes, we had a Caller ID channel) got lost in the process as well.
This is kind of weird but … at times, I still feel seasick. When I sit down or lie down or stand up, especially when I close my eyes, it still feels like I’m on the cruise ship. We’ve been off the ship for almost a week, so I’m not sure how long this lasts.
For the first couple of days after we got off the ship, I felt it every single time I sat down. It has gotten better since then, but last night when I laid down for bed, I could swear I felt the bed slowly rocking back and forth.
Yesterday morning we woke up in a hotel in Chadron, Nebraska, around 6:30am. We packed our things into the minivan one last time and headed southish — destination, home.
GPSes are funny little devices; according to ours, there’s no major highway between Chadron, Nebraska and Oklahoma City (or at least Salina, Kansas). For roughly seven hours we took two lane highways and back road main streets through a dozen towns, regularly alternating between 65mph and 20mph as we made our way through a dozen speed trap towns. We saw a dozen flea markets, thrift stores, and antique malls that, on any other given day, we would have stopped at. But not today. Not on the 14th day of a 14-day vacation. Today, the primary mission — no, the only mission — was to get home.
Susan decided that she and I should take two-hour driving shifts, a system that worked out well. While one of us drove the other doled out snacks and drinks and kept the electronic devices rotating through the makeshift charging station on the van’s center console. A casual observer might assume our trip was sponsored by Apple by the pile of iPads, iPods, and iPhones constantly being charged and discharged. As the battery of one device would be depleted another would rotate into service as the now drained one would attach itself to a spaghetti mess of twisted chargers and wires. After twelve hours of driving our car’s battery was as worn out as we were.
The last day of our trip was fueled by sugar-filled snacks, soda, coffee, potato chips and fast food. Long gone were any aspirations of eating at unique holes in the wall across America. Dinner consisted of soft chicken tacos from Taco Bell with a Monster energy drink for dessert.
The only stop we made yesterday that wasn’t a food/gas/bathroom stop was in Cawker City, Kansas. I was mentally on autopilot with my glazed eyes looking dead ahead when Susan noticed something out the window and hollered “Stop!” We had just driven past the “Biggest Ball of Twine” in the country. A quick u-turn and a few photos later and we were back on our way.
(According to Wikipedia, there are multiple claims to the biggest ball of twine. The one we saw is the biggest ball of sisal twine made by a community. The one in Minnesota, as immortalized by Weird Al, is the largest one made by a single person. There’s another one in Branson, Missouri, owned by Ripley’s Believe it or Not, that’s the largest one made by machinery. Who knew it was such a highly contested title?)
With the biggest ball of twine (in Kansas) to our backs, there was nothing left to do but drive. With a can of Starbucks Double Shot in the cup holder and the last pack of Zingers on the dash, I put my foot to the floor and let the van guide itself home.
Fourteen days ago, the four of us piled in the Honda Odyssey heading toward Seattle, Washington. On the way there, aside from Oklahoma of course, we drove through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state. From Seattle we boarded a cruise that took us to several cities in Alaska and a couple of stops in Canada. After a week on the open seas, we landed back in Seattle and drove the van across Washington to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and finally, Oklahoma. In 14 days we’ve visited 11 states (22%).
GPSes don’t figure in things like bathroom breaks or refueling stops, so its hopeful estimate of 12 hours in the car dragged into 14 by the time our van, now with 210,000 miles on it, pulled in to our driveway.
The cat, much fatter than when we left, was happy to see us, purring louder than I remembered she could. The house is bigger than I remember it being. So much space. The toilet’s bigger, too. And cleaner.
I’m writing this at 11am, the following morning. It’s almost lunch time, but we’re all eating breakfast. Switching back from the Alaskan time zone has been a gradual adjustment, one we haven’t fully made yet. We now have one weekend to fully recover from our vacation and go back to work.
As for now, our vacation, like that ball of twine in Kansas, is officially behind is.
Today was Day 13 of our vacation. At the end of Day 14, we expect to be home and sleeping in our own beds. This is almost the end.
Today consisted mostly of driving, with three stops of note. The first was at Ten Sleep, Wyoming.
Ten Sleep, Wyoming has a posted population of 260. We stopped there for lunch because Susan, at the age of 10, visited the town during her stay at a Girl Scout Camp. We visited the same gift shop she had visited almost 30 years prior and had a round of ice cream shakes there. We had lunch at the Ten Sleep Saloon, only because the first place we picked was closed on Thursdays. That gave the saloon a distinct advantage.
The next stop five hours later was Devil’s Tower.
If you’ve never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind then Devil’s Tower may not mean much to you. It meant a lot to me just to see it, even though I know the top of the tower is not a landing strip for UFOs. Probably.
A couple of hours later we made our third stop of the day.
We did not pay to enter the Mt. Rushmore park. In fact, we simply drove close enough to take pictures of it, admire it for five minutes, and left. We would like to take another trip there in the future but … man, we’re pooped.
We crashed tonight about two hours south of Rapid City, SD — somewhere in Nebraska; where, I’m not sure. With no destinations left on our map, all we have left to do tomorrow is drive, drive, drive.