Jan 20, 2010

Spotlight On... #67 Valerie of the Dolls

Welcome back. We've missed you, reader. It seems like it has been so long. Please let me know if you're going to be gone for that long next time so I can make sure the plants are always getting watered.
Today, we hear from Valerie of the Dolls, an Outfit skater who isn't aware of the new WFTDA rule allowing slapping (but only if the other person is REALLY MEAN). From the looks of it to the left, this seems like a young lady who really enjoys candy. Maybe she can someday score a sponsorship deal with Mike & Ike or something. In the meantime, can someone please let me know what kind of candy comes in that orange, plastic container she's holding? I spent all last night at the grocery store looking for it, as I really want to pick some up for my kids. Thanks.
On with the questions...

When/how you first got involved with roller derby:
One of my best friends (Hayley Vomit) began playing with the Kansas City Roller Warriors, which initially got me interested in roller derby. My roommate and I heard that there was roller derby in Chicago and she took me to a game. When Haley was telling me about how to play I thought that I wasn't tough enough for derby but as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to play it.

Sports before roller derby: I played softball and was a cheerleader until my sophomore year in high school until I discovered cynicism, art, and smoking cigarettes. At my undergrad (Savannah College of Art and Design) I attempted to play lacrosse, which turned out to be a comedy of errors because I can't stand to run, and that's basically all you do in lacrosse.

Signature move: Vomiting at the afterparty, or when I get home, or in my hands, or out the car window, or ALL DAY the next day.

Notable injuries: I broke my wrist when I was a roller derby referee, but I haven't broken anything since I've been a skater. It seems referees are more in peril!

Best team derby moment: I loved almost every minute with my team at RollerCon, the laughing, the yelling, the heat and starvation! I was very proud that the challenge bout I put together worked out and was a victory for team CHI OR DIE! However, it was irksome that people didn't know we were a mix of women who have called Chicago our home at some point and thought the "Chi" was pronounced like the Chi that is the natural energy of the universe and not like our abbreviated Chi-Town.

Best personal derby moment: Winning "Most Improved" at our 2009 season awards. I really worked my butt off last season and it feels really good to know that my teammates noticed.

[Ed. note: Personally, I think the following picture should be up there among her best personal moments]

[But maybe it's only because it gives us this.]

Worst personal derby moment: When I was slapped in the face during game. I know roller derby is a full-contact sport, but come on people. It's A SPORT! You don't slap someone in the face because you don't like a particular block or something doesn't go your way. It was embarrassing and horrible! It's also very unprofessional and childish and it regresses what the WFTDA and skaters are trying to do for the sport of roller derby.

Number of tattoos: No tattoos on me! Although I have art that has been tattooed on two different people.

Favorite place in Chicago: I'm totally not a creepy, goth weird-o, I swear... but I love to wander around Rosehill Cemetery. I still can't find the grave of Bobby Franks! And I don't want any hints—I have to find it on my own.
For Chicago history buffs you will remember Bobby Franks was the innocent victim of the notorius, genius thrill-killers: Leopold and Loeb. If you don't know who they are look them up and learn something today!

Favorite piece of art: Kentucky Coffin Quilt

Guilty pleasures: Britney Spears, Third-Wave Ska, The Wigwam Villages (http://www.wigwamvillage.com), PBS Reality shows where people live in different time periods and have to act and live the way they did back then.

Tell us something you probably shouldn't: I cried when I saw My Giant.

Give us some advice: Everyone deserves a second chance!

Draw yourself in MSPaint:

That's our Valerie: always wearin' a helmet outside of derby, always playin' the piano without opposable thumbs, always goin' viral. Classic.
Thanks for the memories, Valerie of the Dolls. Please accept this children's placemat from a
chain restaurant as a token of our gratitude. Do your best to help the Prime Minister of Burgertown find his way through the Mayonnaise Maze and back to Pickle Parliament!

Jan 13, 2010

Spotlight On... #14 The Joan Ranger

What's that in the sky? It's a bird! It's a plane! No... it's The Joan Ranger! Wait... Is her name not supposed to be a reference to Superman? Then I'm not sure I get it. Can someone help me out? Is it Batman?
Regardless of whatever esoteric reference she is going for, The Joan Ranger's background as an English teacher tells me I don't need to proofread her responses for spelling/grammatical errors. Anything you see can be blamed on the schools. Enjoy!

When/how you first got involved with roller derby: I was at The Whirlaway (a bar in Logan Square) with my friends Dave and Dan having a beer and talking about politics when Mexican Jumping Mean (a now-retired Outfit skater) put up a flier for a fundraiser party. I told her that I had been meaning to check out a bout, and she told me that I should join the team. I ended up going to the party and talking to a few of the girls; I was automatically impressed with the hospitality (especially Smashley’s jello shots). My first practice was two weeks later on January 27, 2008. [In her first response, she already properly uses a semicolon; we might be okay with grammar.]

Sports before roller derby: I was a benchwarmer on my grade school’s basketball and volleyball teams. I was always the little scrawny kid who worked really hard but was never any good. Right before I joined roller derby, I ran for fun and loosely practiced yoga.

Signature move: My favorite move is skating “spread eagle.” It sounds creepy, but it’s not. To do this move, both of my heels face each other, and my toes point in opposite directions. This maneuver allows me to dodge hits or continue to legally block ,with my back, a player who is almost around me.

Notable injuries: I herniated two disks in my spinal column in May 2009. That is pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! I had to take a dose of steroids to grow the tissue back, and I went through about two months of intense physical therapy. The hard work paid off though because I have virtually no back pain anymore! Shoutouts to John at the Andersonville Athletico!

Best team derby moment: Winning the 2008 Fall Brawl – the team worked hard for that honor, and the energy was incredible.

Best personal derby moment: My first bout after my back injury is my top personal derby moment. Both Suzie Crotchrot and I had to miss the first two bouts of the season due to injury, and we were ready for action! At the after party, we both heard countless comments on our ferocity throughout the bout – our desire to win was obvious. In addition to that, I had 20 family members show up to that bout – it was a huge surprise.

Number of tattoos: Two: a Scrabble piece on my right ankle -the letter J, which is worth 8 points, and a love knot on the back of my right shoulder.

Favorite tattoo: The love knot is my favorite because it’s in memory of my mom. When I was little, she would let me wear her love knot earrings, and I took them in and had a replication done.

What you do when you're not skating: I am an English teacher, so I am constantly grading. I am also very involved with the school in other ways. I am a congressional debate coach, and I moderate the Pep Club (I get kids to go to sporting events and organize pep rallies). Outside of derby and school, I like to travel when I have the opportunity. Road trip, anyone?

Guilty pleasures: Late night snacks. Preferably fried and dipped in ranch dressing.

Give us some advice: Do your homework or else I'm keeping you after school!

Draw yourself in MSPaint:

Okay, this MSPaint image leads me to believe her name is a reference to Spider-Man(?). Can someone please confirm/deny this?
Thanks for your time, Joan. We'll call when we have decided on a candidate. Don't call us.

Jan 6, 2010

Spotlight On... #5FT Graves

That was some break we had there. I hope you didn't think we were gone for good. The Spotlight shines on and on here at the blog of The Chicago Outfit. In fact, we are just getting warmed up. Graves is now up to bat (or some other sports metaphor). Standing a mere five feet above the ground, Graves shows us even the smallest among us can topple an opponent with a strong hit (as long is it's to a legal target zone, shorty).

When/how you first got involved with roller derby: I was handed a flyer for callouts for a previous Chicago roller derby league called the Chi-town Sirens. I was in need of some sort of outlet and camaraderie at the time. I also toyed with the idea of playing roller derby for about a year before then, as well. So I went to the callout by myself. About a month after I started practicing (still on rental skates from Fleetwood Roller Rink), the Chi-town Sirens League was dissolved, and I decided to collaborate with some other former Sirens skaters like Althea N. Hell and Charlenne in Charge to help start the Chicago Outfit. I was a freelance graphic designer at the time, so I poured my heart into creating a brand and image for the Outfit as well as learning to play the awesome sport of roller derby.

Sports before roller derby: I never really considered myself an athlete growing up. I played softball in elementary school and tried basketball and volleyball in middle school but lacked the competitive confidence to continue in high school. I actually tried out for soccer in high school, but I pulled my hip flexor which was detrimental in the scrimmage tryout. They made me manager and not a player. I said screw that and became president of the art club instead.

Signature move:
I guess what I am known for is getting low. Without skates, I stand at 5'0" (hence my number, 5ft Above, yo.) I utilize my low center of gravity when the big girls go for a hit. It's my goal to draw an illegal hit or dodge the hit completely when I'm jamming.

Notable injuries:
The only major injury I have had was actually a re-injury from a broken cuneiform bone (one of the square bones) in my left foot. I snapped it when I was 16 after hopping a fence running from the police. Luckily, I had Doc Martin's on at the time or it probably could have been worse.
I was at the bottom of a pile up during scrimmage practice when it was tweaked wrong again. I was only off skates for 2 weeks during this re-injury, but am pretty sure it will bother me the rest of my life. Stretching and especially Bikram Yoga have helped me tremendously.

Best team derby moment: I think the best moment for the Outfit for the 2009 season would have to be our moment of winning the last bout of our home season [to finish undefeated]. It was sort of anti-climatic when the last bout was over. I think we all know that we are that much closer to playing more WFTDA teams that will be of our same caliber.

Best personal derby moment:
There are a few solid hits that made the crowd roar during this past season. Those always feel great. First thing that comes to mind that I can think of was during our most recent expo bout in October, 2009. Helsa Wayton gave me an awesome whip while I was jamming. Sweet Mary Pain was an opposing blocker (usually a power jammer), and she went for the kill cutting across the track in an almost 90 degree hit, but the whip from Helsa was so perfect that I gracefully dodged Sweet as she went flying out of bounds.

Worst personal derby moment:
My worst personal moment was probably the very first bout I had ever played. I hadn't even scrimmaged yet or knew the game whatsoever. It was with my former league, the Sirens, and the expo was outside on North Avenue Beach. I was running late, hungover, starving, and didn't get all the soap out of my water bottle before I filled it and ran out the door. I just remember La Femme Nikita yelling at me to "HIT HER!!!!" when all I was trying to do was stay on my skates.

Favorite/rival non-Outfit skater:
I have to say the person that stands out the most was a chick from TXRD, Moco Loco, whom I met at RollerCon, Vegas, 2008. We met on the bus on the way to the challenge bouts. She wanted one of the buttons of my face that Shoot To Kill, the Outfit photographer, made. "That's my face!" became a total inside joke that the Outfit still says.

Number of tattoos: I have two tattoos, both pretty subtle. One is on the inside of my left ankle of a butterfly the size of a dime that I got when I was 17 on a high school trip to Mexico. The other is abstract lines that spell out the word 'real' on the inside of my left arm that is only a year old.

Still-to-come tattoos:
Maybe in another 11 years.

What you do when you're not skating: I am in my first semester of working on an MFA degree in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Media program at Columbia College, Chicago. I am also a freelance Photoshop Retoucher and assistant to Chicago artist, Jason Salavon. (www.salavon.com)

Favorite place in Chicago: I'm not a regular at any particular restaurant or bar but I have always loved the Empty Bottle for small music venues since I moved to Chicago 5 years ago. Now I live a block away and also met my current beau there.

Guilty pleasures: Mixing my food together and Justin Timberlake.

Tell us something you probably shouldn't: I bring up derby in conversations when I get bored and want attention.

Give us some advice:
Life is easier if you keep it real.

Draw yourself in MSPaint:

Graves sets new bar is set in MSPaint submissions. Take note, everyone else.
The Spotlight is making it kind of hot in here, so someone had better crank that AC. We got a lot more to go.