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my day started with some channel surfing, where i came across a spanish-language variety show pitting two latinas with ample d├ęcolletage in a game of televised jenga. that pretty much set the mood for the rest of my day. eliza's coworker friend carl came to pick me around 5pm, his girlfriend hilary in the driver side seat and eliza in the back. we were on our way to wilmington, to the shriner's auditorium, to see a roller derby for the very first time. they've been around since the 30's, but the recent resurgence has taken an ironic altpunk-hipster theme, with all-female teams taking on names like wicked pissahs and the nutcrackers, and sporting punny handles like pina collidah or amandaconda.

after picking up our tickets at roll call, we went inside and sat with carl's friends who had saved us some seats. i was expecting a lot more young hipsters in the audience, so i was very surprised to fix it quite mixed, with a lot of families bringing their kids. some people wore jerseys of their favorite players (a souvenir table was set up when you first come in, along with a raffle) while other made signs. even outside in the parking lot we saw some folks tailgating, have a pre-game cookout from the back of their truck. as for the venue, i know nothing about the shriners except it's a club where men wear fezzes.

once the game started, i was at a lost as to what was going on, and kept on referring to my free derby magazine to read the rules. there's something about rollerskating around and getting points for passing opponents. photographers and videographers were stationed at one side of the makeshift "rink" (no banking, just taped lines on the floor) while male groupies cheered loudly from another end. two emcees provided color commentary: the girl in the pillbox hat eliza recognized as the receptionist at her hairdresser. i wouldn't call roller derby a sport, it's more like a theatrical performance, more pro-wrestling than football.

the derby was punctuated by two intermissions, giving people a chance to stretch their legs and wander to the concession stand to buy beer in a plastic cup. up on stage, an 80's cover band played to the crowd. one of the guitar players looked like my freshman college roommate and i wanted to call out his name to see if he'd respond ("gene! you still owe me that physics book!").

i was rooting for the wicked pissahs over the nutcrackers purely for superficial reasons: their girls had the cuter outfits and just looked better. the type of ladies ran the gamut, from scrawny petite-sized girls (they're usually the faster skaters), to scary butchy girls, to big girls straight out of some robert crumb comix. the pissahs even had a team mascot, a boy dressed up in a duck outfit who would periodically incite the crowd to cheer loudly for the team.

after the first half i wandered down to the sideline to get some better action photos. i wanted to practice my photo tracking technique, whereby i "chase" a subject with the lens. a security person said only people with press passes could be down there, but by then i had already taken 150+ photos, and went back into the bleachers. alas, by game's end the nutcrackers ended up winning. a mini trophy presentation followed and the show ended with the raffle drawing. carl ended up winning a restaurant gift certificate. i followed the gang back to JP for food and drinks.


the crazy house, jamaica way

before we could do that though, they made a quick stop to show me the "crazy house" on jamaica way. it wasn't on the agenda, but because i live next to somerville - which i think has the best christmas light displays in all of greater boston - i didn't believe a house could be "crazier" than the ones in my neck of the woods. we didn't even get to the house yet before i could already see the lights from down the road, my jaw dropping immediately and my face contorting into a WTF expression. although i think somerville has the most variety and color, this one house on jamaica way definitely stands out in terms of quantity: imagine a huge mansion just covered in christmas lights. it was such a attraction, people were pulling over on the side of the road to gawk and get their photos taken.