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fumbling towards mediocrity
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I can't get over the fact that Tucson has cactuses. Cacti. Whatever. Cacti are fucked up. I've spent almost all my life in or around East Coast cities, and it somehow seems deeply surreal to walk out of the Tucson airport and see these weirdo plants that are only supposed to exist in Bugs Bunny cartoons and that Star Trek episode where Worf and Troi get trapped on the holodeck. On the other hand, everything about roller derby is slightly surreal, so it kind of fits. For example, I'm being picked up from the airport by a man called Hurt Reynolds. Par for the course. Hurt and I met last summer at Rollercon in Las Vegas, and hit it off famously. At the time he was the head scorekeeper for Seattle's Rat City Rollergirls and had done a lot of the organizing for the 'con. Also, he dressed up like Elvis and performed a mass derby wedding of hundreds of rollergirls, including Charm City's Sister Midnight and Minerva Vavoom. I was the flower girl in that wedding. Again, par for the course in this world. Now Hurt's spending a year traveling around the nation visiting various leagues, helping new ones get off the ground, working some of the major derby events.

Which is why we've met up again. It's two days before the Dust Devil tournament starts. Dust Devil is a Really Big Deal for the derby world -- it's the western regional tournament. Single elimination, 12 teams, three days. Four full-length games a day. The final four qualify for the national tournament to be held in late September in Austin. It is mind-blowing to me that Tucson has enough derby fans to support this event. The original Mobtown Maulers schedule had the Maulers playing games on consecutive Sundays and I was shitting myself with fear that we were going to lose a lot of money on it because each bout would be half-attended instead of our normal sellout crowds. But here in Tucson apparently you can play derby all day for multiple days in a row and people will happily sit around and watch girls go around and around in circles and knock each other down. Splendid. Of course, this venue (Bladeworld) will sell beer and ours doesn't, so that's going to have an effect.

My reunion with Hurt Reynolds is a pleasant one, and while there's a bit of the general awkwardness that comes with hanging out one-on-one with somebody you kinda-but-don't-really know, we quickly get down to talking derby and we're completely in our element. That night we go out to the Surly Wench with our kind hostess Laura. I have lucked out by knowing Laura. We used to be roommates in college -- forever ago, around 2000-2001 -- and it just so happened that she eventually moved to a house in Tucson about 10 minutes from Bladeworld. This fact has probably saved me some $400 in hotel costs, which is great because I didn't have $400 to start with. I feel immediately at home at the Surly Wench. It feels like somebody has picked up Baltimore's Ottobar, moved its parts around, changed its lighting a bit, and dropped it right in the center of Tucson. Sweet.

Thursday is generally uneventful. Laura goes to work. Hurt works on paperwork and reporting forms for the tournament. I take Hurt's car and go driving around Tucson, get a haircut, buy a jaunty fedora, and do a lot of basking in the fact that it's 70 degrees and sunny. When I left Baltimore it was covered in a sheet of ice. In the evening Hurt and I go to the Hotel Congress, which is hosting a lot of the teams AND has a nice bar in the lobby, where we commence to drinking with some of the early arrivals -- referee Rev. Riot and skater Crackerjack from Madison's Mad Rollin' Dolls and Tomcat an ex-skater from Texas. Tomcat is exactly what you'd expect a lesbian Texan rollergirl to be, gregarious and blunt and hard-drinking. Apparently she's temporarily moved to Mexico for reasons that are never made entirely clear to me. It's odd to me to be so close to a national border that changing countries is a matter of hopping in the car and driving south for an hour. You can't do that shit in Baltimore. Hurt and I pack it in fairly early because we're going to be working our asses off for the next three days.


First round bout: Rose City Rollers (Portland) vs. Sin City Neander Dolls (Las Vegas)

(BTW, almost all of these action shots are from Type2B's rather amazing Flickr page.)

The referees have been split into four squads. Almost all the referees are only one squad, but since no ref is going to be allowed to call their home league's games, and almost all of the available refs came with one of the participating leagues, I get placed on two squads since Charm City ain't playing in no western regional. I'm totally cool with this because it means I get twice as much experience from the tourney, and also because I get really antsy when I'm at a roller rink and am not skating.

I'm an outside penalty ref in the first game, Rose City vs. Sin City. Rose City is ranked 10th to Sin City's 7th, but I'm kind of expecting an upset in this one. Recently Rose City's four intraleague teams played Rat City's and although Rose City lost 3 out of 4, the scores seemed to be pretty close and Rat City is known for being one of the best teams in the nation, just behind Texas and Tucson. In the first period it looks like I might be right. Sin City is hitting really hard, but they don't seem quite as fast as the Rose City girls. The first period ends with Rose City up by 11 or so. Sin City turns it up a little bit in the second period and pulls to within one point at the end of the period, and the crowd is going NUTS.

On a personal level, I'm rather stressing out because the other referees seem to be calling the game much tighter than what I'm used to back at home. In derby penalties are divided into minors and majors. Get four minors and you go to the penalty box for a minute, get a major and you immediately go to the penalty box for a minute. In our home games we'll call somewhere between 5 and 8 majors in an average game. Here it seems that skaters are being tossed out on majors left and right, and there's always a pile of people in the box. Both the skaters and the audience seem surprised at the amount of majors being called, but we're just following the orders that the teams gave us pre-tourney. I know that I'm calling way less penalties than everybody else, though, and I can't help but wonder if the other refs are noticing and thinking I'm blind.

Also, there's a bit of confusion because Sin City has a skater named Trish the Dish and Rose City has a skater named Death Trish and it's playing havoc with our penalty reporting. As far as I can tell, though, we get it under control fairly early.

The last period is a total thriller. Sin City comes out on fire and starts running away with it, opening up a 20-point lead with about 15 minutes to play. I've noticed in roller derby that 25 points seems to be the tipping point for a bout -- once a team is that far ahead, it's highly unlikely that their opponents are going to be able to come back. But Rose City puts the brakes on right at 20 and fights their way back, tying up the game with about 5 minutes to play. Going into the last jam of the game, there's just a minute left, the Sin City jammer is in the penalty box so they can't score, and Rose City is down by just 3 points. The jam starts, the Rose City jammer reaches the pack for her initial pass, and Something Controversial Happens. If you're a Sin City fan, Sin City blocker Skid tries to put a shoulder block on the Rose City jammer and misses, illegally hitting her in the back and knocking her to the ground. If you're a Rose City fan, or a referee, Sin City blocker Skid outright shoves the Rose City jammer to the floor, figuring that taking the clear major is totally worth taking the jammer out. I wasn't in the perfect position to make the call, so I'm not going to characterize it one way or the other, but I will say that just about every ref in the building calls the major at the same time. Skid goes straight to the penalty box, but the damage is done. The Rose City jammer just doesn't have enough time left on the clock to lap the pack twice, and Sin City wins a 95-92 nailbiter to start the tournament.

First round bout: Pikes Peak Derby Dames (Colorado Springs) vs. Bay Area Derby Girls (San Francisco)

Unfortunately, the remaining three games are nowhere near as close. I jam ref in the next game, 6th-ranked Bay Area vs. 12th-ranked Pikes Peak. I'm much more comfortable in this position. You have to be a more agile skater to keep up with the jammer, and it's much more obvious if you fuck up, but on the other hand you're only responsible for keeping your eye on one skater instead of trying to watch 10 at once. This game is pretty much over after the first 10 minutes, with the Bay Area jammers slicing through the Pikes Peak defense like they're not even there and the Pikes Peak jammers rarely managing to make it through the pack even once. The majority of the Pikes Peak skaters clearly aren't quite ready to play at this level. PPDD only puts up 6 points in the first period, 3 points in the second and 6 in the third for a total of 15. Meanwhile, Bay Area drops a total of 198 points on them. Fucking ouch. Oddly, the 198-15 margin happens to be the exact same point differential that Charm City beat Dominion by in our first interleague match, but it looks a LOT worse here. I'm impressed by Pikes Peak's jammer Sugrrr Rush -- she's crazy fast and resilient, but she just doesn't have enough help from her blockers. She reminds me a lot of Dominion's Sweet N. Lowdown, another amazing skater who seems a few steps ahead of her teammates in skill level.

First round bout: Kansas City Roller Warriors vs. Dallas Derby Devils

With my matches done for the day, I am free to start drinking, which I get right down to. The announcers seem to be playing up the third matchup a lot -- 5th ranked Kansas City vs. 11th ranked Dallas -- but I'm not really sure why. KC came within one point of beating Texas in a 10-minute qualifying round at the last Dust Devil, and Texas is generally considered to be the best team in roller derby, only having lost one game in their entire existence (to Tucson). I don't expect this one to be very competitive at all, and I'm right. Dallas stays in the game for the first period, but KC's ridiculous jammers are way too fast for them in the second and third. Kansas City has a jammer named Snot Rocket who is just blowing me away. I've never seen any skater this fast or agile. By the time the Dallas blockers notice she's approaching and move towards her position, she's already switched her angle and leaves them blocking air. In the end KC dismisses Dallas 140-61, and while the scoreboard makes it look like Dallas kinda sucks, they're actually a pretty good team -- Kansas City is just that much better.

First round bout: Duke City Derby (Albuquerque) vs. Rocky Mountain Roller Girls (Denver)

With Duke City ranked 9th and Rocky Mountain ranked 8th, I expect the final game of the night to be very close, and it is for the first period, which ends 30-30. I'm pulling hard for Duke City in this one, partially because I've totally fallen in love with the style of their jammer Kamikaze Kim -- she is really good at faking blockers out one-on-one, which is tough to do unless you have really explosive speed. She does. As soon as the blocker overcommits to one side or the other, Kim's blowing past her. Rocky Mountain's got a really hard-hitting blocker named Pinky 500, and seeing big Pinky go after little Kim (heh) is definitely a highlight of the day. Pinky puts Kim on her ass a few times, but Kim wins most of their encounters. In the second period, Duke City opens it up and pulls ahead by the magic 25, greatly helped along by their jammer Muffin, who is immediately a crowd favorite, because you can't help but cheer for somebody named Muffin. While the third period is pretty closely matched again, Duke City protects the lead they built in the second period, Rocky Mountain never gets close enough to seriously threaten, and Duke City pulls off the first upset of the tourney. Final score is Duke City 110, Rocky Mountain 82.

After the last match Hurt goes out drinking with ref Hambone and skater Ginger Snap from Gotham Girls in New York, but since I've already been drinking for three hours I just go back to Laura's place, write up a quick summary of the day's events for my Charm City ladies back home and hit the sack.


Quarterfinal: Texas Rollergirls vs. Sin City Neander Dolls (Las Vegas)

This time, I'm reffing the second two games of the day instead of the first two. Which means I can't drink ALL DAY LONG. Alas. It's a open secret that today is going to be the predictable day. The top four teams got byes. #1 Texas and and #2 Tucson have never lost except to each other, and #3 Rat City crushed everybody but Texas at Seattle's Bumberbout tournament last summer. The one question mark is #4 Arizona vs. #5 Kansas City. While Arizona is the second-oldest derby league in the country (after Texas), they seem to have been declining in the past year, getting upset 100-90 by Carolina Roller Girls in December (which just happened to be the last game Carolina played before coming to Charm City.) KC looked really good beating Dallas and a lot of people are seeing a potential upset.

The Texas Rollergirls come into the tourney as the #1 seed and pretty much everybody expects the championship game to be Texas vs. Tucson. Texas beat Tucson in the final of the first Dust Devil, but Tucson beat Texas 62-60 in overtime in December for Texas' very first loss ever. It's a grudge match and a half. Sin City does everything they can to upset them early, but it's just not going to happen. While Sin City manages to stay barely ahead of Texas for the first half of the first period, it becomes clear after a while that Texas is just getting loosened up. Sin City seems to get thrown off their game by an absurdly long referee timeout with 10 minutes to go in the first period. Before the timeout, Sin City is up 15-10, but Texas puts the boot down on them afterwards and ends the first period 40-19. After that, it's all Texas. Texas has very versatile skaters -- many of them seem equally comfortable blocking and jamming, and they are big, tall girls who hit VERY hard. I'm especially impressed with Rice Rocket, who is one of the smaller and faster Texas players but seems to be hitting even harder than most of them. On a different level, I'm also extremely impressed with Texas skater Buckshot's stomach. She's wearing a half-shirt that makes it clear that she must do something like +500 situps a day. Or she's genetically engineered. Texas wipes the floor with Sin City 121-49 and doesn't even look like they were trying all that hard.

Quarterfinal: Rat City Rollergirls (Seattle) vs. Bay Area Derby Girls (San Francisco)

In the second game, karma smacks poor Bay Area Derby in the face -- they got the biggest jump in quality of opponent by far in going from Pikes Peak to Rat City. Rat City walks all over Bay Area. I find Rat City's style to be a interesting change from what I've been seeing so far in the tourney -- while most of the teams so far rely on big hits and tight defense to keep jammers in the pack, Rat City seems to rely equally on their speed. Most of the Rat City blockers are as fast as the Bay Area jammers, which means that every time the Bay Area jammer sees an open lane to escape the pack, the Rat City girls just swarm up and close it rather than trying to slow her down with blocks. In most bouts, the jammers have been fast enough to win a race with the pack, but not so here. Bay Area is no match for Rat City, and Rat City easily wins, 112-35. I immediately develop a great fondness for Rat City's skater Rettig to Rumble, partially because she is a hell of a blocker, but mostly because she plays with half her face painted like a skeleton. Like this:

You just can't argue with that. Rettig to Rumble wins.

Quarterfinal: Arizona Roller Derby (Phoenix) vs. Kansas City Roller Warriors

I'm back on the floor as an outside penalty ref for Arizona vs. Kansas City, which everybody knows is going to be the close one. It turns out to be one of the best bouts I've ever seen. The crowd's energy level is through the roof for this one. Arizona is Tucson's nearest rival, so the Tucson fans are pulling for Kansas City, as are the majority of other rollergirls from around the nation who want to see an upset -- however, Arizona imported a lot of fans from Phoenix, and they're fucking LOUD. Oddly, it looks like Arizona is relying on a one-two jammer combination of Denise Lightning and Sheriff Shutyerpaio -- I'm surprised they don't have a deeper pool of jammers. They keep it tight all the way through, through, in great part because it seems their strategy is "don't let Snot Rocket play." Every time Arizona gets lead jammer and Snot Rocket is jamming, the Arizona jammer will wait until Snot Rocket gets back to the pack and then call off the jam right before she's eligible to score, letting her tire herself out on a 0-0 jam. Kansas City seems really thrown off by this -- they've obviously never run into a team that plays this way before. The crowd doesn't particularly care for it, as Snot Rocket has quickly made herself the breakout star of the tournament. By the third period, the crowd has actually started lustily booing every time Arizona pulls the trick.

This one comes all the way down to the final jam of the bout, with Arizona jammer Denise Lightning going up against Snot Rocket for KC. With about a minute left, Arizona is down by 5 points, 75-70, and needs to bottle up Snot Rocket while getting Denise through. On their first pass through the pack, both jammers emerge from the pack at about the same time, with Snot Rocket out of bounds on the inside and Denise Lightning just to her left. Clearly knowing that she needs to lap Snot Rocket to get the fifth point to tie, Denise Lightning throws a block on Snot Rocket that knocks her down -- BUT it's an illegal block because Snot Rocket is out of bounds, and a referee other than me (thank God) tosses Denise out of the jam on a major! With Arizona jammerless and less than a minute on the clock, it's essentially game over, and Arizona can do nothing but watch the last 50 seconds run out while KC dances ecstatically, scoring the biggest upset of the tourney so far, guaranteeing themselves a trip to the national championship, making new fans out of almost everybody in Bladeworld and making the Arizona fans HATE the ref squad. Kansas City 75, Arizona 70. My only regret about this game was that I was so intent on calling it well that I couldn't enjoy it as much as the fans did.

Quarterfinal: Tucson Roller Derby vs. Duke City Derby (Albuquerque)

I wish somebody had had the foresight to make Arizona / Kansas City the last bout of the night, because the next game was a serious drop in intensity level. Hometown Tucson had zero problems handling Duke City, and like Texas and Rat City earlier in the day, it looked like they were actually saving themselves for Sunday. I jam reffed in this one, and drew Tucson in the first and third period, which was an intense workout -- their jammers were second only to Rat City's in average speed. I was especially impressed by Tucson jammer Sloppy Flo, who never demonstrated even the barest flicker of emotion during the whole game. No excitement, no pleasure, no frustration, no anger, no disappointment, no ANYTHING, just a dead-serious poker face all night long. Kinda creepy. On the other hand, I got a big kick out of the fact that I got to jam ref for Tucson's Hard Anya. Hers was one of the first totally awesome derby names I ever heard, and I think I Myspaced her to that effect long before Charm City's first season. It was as close to a celebrity sighting as I have yet felt in roller derby. I found out later that Tucson wasn't even using most of their normal jammers, figuring they could afford to keep them fresh for the finals. They were right. Duke City played as hard as they could, but it was like those old cartoons where the tiny chickenhawk is running at full speed towards Foghorn Leghorn, swinging madly, and Foghorn is lazily keeping him at arm's distance with a hand on his forehead. In the end Tucson smacked down Duke City 166-41.

Tucson has a skater named Hootin' Annie, who gets introduced as "the one-woman party on wheels." This makes me smile.

Since I hadn't been able to drink all day long, I did go out that night, back to the Surly Wench. Got myself in a long and involved discussion with Lucy Fur of Chicago's Windy City Rollers about the refereeing, in which we agreed that the tourney was being called far more strictly than any of the participating leagues were used to. By this point in the weekend I was feeling like a broken record in repeating that yes, the refereeing was throwing everybody for a loop, but that we were just following the instructions given to us by the skaters themselves. We were all simply prison guards at the Auschwitz of Bladeworld.

By this point in the weekend, a whole mess of people -- skaters and fans alike -- have come up to me to ask me why the hell I am not wearing a miniskirt. When I tell them why, they all seem to have the same reaction: "Dude, that's fucked up." I agree, but what power have I in the police state of Tucson, Arizona? Fortunately my fanbase from the DC Rollergirls has made the trip out to Dust Devil, and Holly GoHardly, Mother Clucker and Summer Fling are totally representing for Justice Feelgood Marshall:


Semifinal: Texas Rollergirls vs. Rat City Rollergirls

I was so keyed up before the last day that I woke up at like 7am and started pacing around impatiently waiting for the 1pm start of the first bout. Part of why I was keyed up was because we hadn't gotten the referee assignments yet and I didn't know what bouts I'd be working. On one hand I really really wanted to work the championship because that would be a neat thing to have on my resume, but on the other hand I wanted to be able to sit back and cheer. By Sunday morning, though, I was definitely wanting to ref the championship. When we got to Bladeworld, I discovered that I was working Tucson vs. Kansas City as a jammer ref and that I was an alternate for the championship bout -- if Texas went to the championship, I'd be watching it, but if Rat City went to the championship, I'd be replacing a Rat City ref on inside penalty. So I had a billion reasons to root for Rat City in the Sunday opener against Texas -- it was Hurt's league, they had the supreme badass Rettig to Rumble, it meant I'd get to ref the biggest game of my career, everybody loves an upset, and frankly I've been pretty anti-Texas in general since the 2000 election.

It did not look good for Rat City after the first period. Their jammers kept getting sent to the penalty box on majors and Texas was taking full advantage of it every time, usually calling off the jams right when the Rat City jammer was finally sprung from the box. At the end of the first, Texas was up something like 40-13, just over that tipping point, and I didn't expect a comeback, but Rat City was not done. They came storming back impressively in the second period, and this time it was the Texas jammers that couldn't stay out of the penalty box. Rat City was getting lead jammer over and over again and narrowed the Texas lead all the way to two points before Texas managed to open it back up to 10 as the period ended. Rat City had all the momentum, though, and it seemed like they had the whole building behind them on the first jam on the third period. The Texas jammer Rice Rocket started the jam in the penalty box, and Rat City's Miss Fortune was on fire that jam, picking up 8 points before Rice got out of the box -- and then was immediately sent BACK to the penalty box on a major. Rat City took full advantage of that and Miss Fortune put up 8 more points before the jam ended, giving Rat City their first lead of the game, and the place was going absolutely insane. The rest of the period was back-and-forth, with Texas taking the lead back by two points with about 12 minutes to go, and then Rat City taking it back again with 5 minutes left. The last 5 minutes of the game was absolute insanity in the audience -- you could see everybody's eyes go from the action to the clock to the action and back again as Rat City added a couple of small-margin jams as time ticked away. Going into the last jam of the bout, Rat City was up by 11 points and Rice Rocket had about a minute to try to close the gap, which simply wasn't enough time. The buzzer went off, Rat City won 105-95, and the crowd (including me) lost its fucking shit. If you don't follow derby you probably wouldn't be able to understand this (on the other hand, if you don't follow derby there is no way you read this far), but Texas losing is a REALLY BIG DEAL. It was only their second loss in FOUR YEARS. I immediately went over to go find Hurt Reynolds, who was actually crying with pride. It was a truly awesome moment. And of course, I was totally psyched because Rat City had just secured me a place in the championship bout.

Later I discovered that there were 305 penalties called in this bout, which in my humble opinion is madness. By way of comparison, we called 100 penalties in Charm City vs. Dominion and 140 penalties in Charm City vs. Carolina. This ended up being one of the biggest things that fans bitched about, and frankly I think they were kind of justified. Nobody comes to bouts to see referees do an awesome job of tossing skaters out of jams. My general philosophy at home is "if it didn't matter, don't call it." I'm pretty sure that every sport that involves penalties for fouls -- basketball, football, soccer -- follows this philosophy. It seemed that throughout the tourney, we were expected to call the game closer to the philosophy of "if it didn't matter, it's a minor, and if it mattered EVEN A TINY BIT, it's a major." Recipe for some pissed-off fans.

Semifinal: Tucson Roller Derby vs. Kansas City Roller Warriors

I jam reffed in the other semifinal, Tucson vs. Kansas City, once again covering the Tucson jammers twice. KC gave it all they had, but it was pretty clear that their games against Dallas and Arizona had tired them out a bit, with Snot Rocket not quite as speedy as she'd been on the first two days. Once again, Tucson looks like they're actually holding back a little, which is even more impressive against a team as strong as KC than it was against Duke City. Once again, Sloppy Flo plays the game like an automaton. Once again, Tucson crushes the competition, 127-47.

This is the last game I ref on the squad that's being led by Texas' head ref Quicksilver. I really built up a lot of respect for her in a short amount of time -- she seemed completely cool and in control throughout each bout we worked together, which is tough to do with 30 rollergirls and 1000 fans yelling at you while you're trying to figure out penalty box issues. After the game, Quicksilver shakes my hand, tells me she really enjoyed working with ME, and says that I should keep my schedule open to referee in September's national tournament in Austin. I think I play it pretty cool -- "Yeah, I will, I'd like to come out" but inside I'm ridiculously proud. On the one hand, roller derby doesn't really mean anything. On the other hand, it totally means everything. I'm really pleased to be asked to referee their first official national tournament.

3rd place bout: Texas Rollergirls vs. Kansas City Roller Warriors

This meant that poor Kansas City had all of one hour to rest between playing a full-length game against the #2 seed and playing a full-length consolation bout against the #1 seed! KC had already earned a lot of new fans by upsetting Arizona, but their game against Texas made them genuine superheroines. They lost again (Texas 111, Kansas City 62) but the mere fact that they gave Texas a hard fight instead of just packing it in really impressed everybody in the place. This game ended on one of the things that makes roller derby more than just another sport: although KC lost, the DJ played their intro song (Ludacris' "Move") at bout's end and all the skaters from both teams broke out into spontaneous booty-dancing with each other. It was hilarious and sweet at the same time. KC won every heart and mind at Bladeworld with their performance that weekend.

Championship bout: Tucson Roller Derby vs. Rat City Rollergirls

Which brought us up to the main event -- hometown Tucson vs. visiting Rat City for the Western title. It was tremendously strange, after having screamed my damn throat raw for Rat City just five hours earlier, to come out to work the championship game in Referee Mode. I've gotten really good at emotional detachment in my year-long career, to the point where I sometimes feel like I'm not actually physically present during a bout. I mean, I feel the energy of the crowd and skaters, I hear the announcers going wild, I can literally feel the vibrations when the crowd starts stomping the feet or banging on the surrounding glass, but none of it touches me emotionally. I'm there to keep the game fair, and nothing else matters at all until the game ends. I'd never seen a derby crowd as worked up as this one, but I was just in that place where it was like I was in this weird parallel universe where they sort of existed, but not really. It's hard to explain.

You couldn't have asked for a better game to end the weekend, but as a ref I barely paid attention to the score except between periods as I was too focused on not letting anybody get away with anything. The one thing I did definitely notice was, unlike the previous Texas/Kansas City game, both teams looked completely fresh, as if they hadn't played all weekend long -- I'm sure that was almost all adrenaline. Tucson kept a small lead through the first half of the first period, but Rat City pulled out to a small 33-24 lead by the end of the first period. While Tucson kept narrowing the lead throughout the second period, all the way down to 59-58 at the end of the second, there was just something about Rat City's play that made me feel they were just a smidge better. Primarily it was the way their defense was working together -- while the Tucson jammers and blockers would occasionally call out to their teammates to plug a hole or give help, it seemed like the Rat City girls just always knew where they had to be. Rat City never gave away the lead in the third period, and in the end came away with their second huge upset in just a few hours, winning the championship 83-72 to the great dismay of the hometown crowd, but the total glee of the sizable Rat City contingent.

There was an afterparty, and there was an immense amount of alcohol consumed, and a wide variety of people did a wide variety of inappropriate things, but it would be wrong of me to go into too much detail about this. Although I will say that this was the high point of the afterparty, when we closed down the hotel bar and caused a major bottleneck at the exit. There was only one thing to do at this point:

I was drinking up until like 5am, so I'm still not entirely sure how I got from the afterparty to the airport and successfully managed to check in and board my 7am flight. All I know is that I woke up with a massive hangover in Minneapolis, the world was covered in ice again, and there wasn't a cactus to be seen.

Music: Fog - Wallpaper Sink Or Swim

41 caps busted <--> bust a cap