Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Stupid Tall Hot Girl is really a nerd! An interview with Michele Boyd of The Guild.

My loyal readers will know that I love The Guild, mostly because I was one of those people who was just short of wrist cutter obsessive with World of Warcraft back in the ye old days of 2008 and before. Last season of The Guild introduced several new characters including Riley, also known as The Stupid Tall Hot Girl that was the roommate of the incredibly buff asian guy that Felicia Day's character was into. What made Riley stand out, aside from the fact she was really hot and living with an asian guy (someday I'll be that asian guy!) was that the character was also a female gamer and loved underdogs (someday I'll be that underdog too!). Through some major finagling and cunningly shrewd communication skills aka randomly emailing someone in the middle of the night; I was able to interview the actress who plays Riley, the wonderful Michele Boyd. Michele is what we in the Awesome Forever world consider true awesome. She's an actress, a scientist, a gamer, amongst other talents. Here is her interview in it's entirety:

The lovely Michele Boyd

#1 - On The Guild, which is where a lot of us recognize you from, you play the tall hot girl that's crazy for FPS games and likes underdogs. How much overlap do you have with that character? At a glance it sounds like that character was tailored to you since you are a rather attractive woman and rumor has it that you're a gamer.

While I am definitely a gamer, I'm actually primarily an RPG gamer, specifically WoW. I do also really like 3rd person shooters like Gears of War. But I definitely wouldn't be so dismissive of the MMORPG gamers, they're my people!

#2 - You went to school for Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. Did you ever imagine that you'd ever be able to use that educational background as an actress, let alone for the Discovery Channel?

No way! I wouldn't change what I majored in, though. I think there's a lot of crossover between Behavioral Sciences and acting. Both are really about figuring out what makes people tick. The Discovery Channel was a lucky fluke; my parents were happy that my degree was getting SOME use, at least. :)

#3 - According to your bio on IMDB, you're a military kid who moved around a lot and you went to school on both coasts. Was there any place growing up where you wished you stayed forever?

Hmm...not really. I loved moving around so often; I got to reinvent myself every few years. I was also just as big a dork when I was a kid, so I didn't have a lot of close friends that I was sad to be leaving all the time. I'd say my favorite place outside of California was Boston. It's the perfect post-college place to live, tons of fun, laid back people. Who are insane drivers. #4 - Having lived in Nor Cal and So Cal and the West Coast and the East Coast, do you buy into that whole rivalry thing they have going on, or do you think it's silly?

I saw a lot of that rivalry when I was in school in Nor Cal, but down here in SoCal, I don't think people are nearly as fired up. Especially in Los Angeles, where everyone is from somewhere else anyway! It's kind of like when I lived in Boston; everyone there despises the Yankees and was fanatical about any game between them, but whenever I was in New York, I got the impression New Yorkers just didn't really care about us crazy Boston people. ;)

#5 - I met your co-star Felicia Day at Wonder Con 09 and she told me that most celebrities are just regular working people like the rest of us. Agree, or disagree? Any crazy celebrity moments you've witnessed or partaken in that you care to share?

I don't think I know any celebrities, so that's hard to say! I'm deliberately leaving Felicia out of this, although I do think of her as a celebrity, because she's attained her status so differently than everyone else in the status quo. However, I think it's just like anything else; you have the fame-whore celebrities who probably were born thinking they were better than everyone else, and then you have the celebrities who worked very hard to get where they are and appreciate good friendships and sincerity in other people.

#6 - What was it like being on The Guild, did the cast welcome you with open arms and are you all friends now?

We braid each others' hair and hang 'Keep Out' signs on our treehouse. ;) Everyone on the cast was amazing and very friendly, as is the entire crew. I wouldn't say we hang out much outside of filming, I've even been a really bad friend and have yet to make it to one of Sandeep (Zaboo)/Felicia/Jeff's (Vorik) improv nights. But everyone appreciates someone who loves what they're working on, and we all love working on The Guild.

#7 - Obviously your character Riley will be in the upcoming season of The Guild. Will we see a lot of her, or only a little? Any chance she or Wade would join the guild as their 7th and 8th members?

I can only say that Riley is going to have a more major role in Season 3. Felicia would kill me if I said more, I'm sorry!

#8 - What are the roles you like to play as an actress. Are there certain roles that you seek out or wont do?

To be honest, most of the roles I really want to play are a little older than me right now, which is good! That means that I have a little time to build up my resume so I can actually be CONSIDERED for those roles! But I would love to do the heist films, action films like Aliens (LOVE Ripley), things like that. I'm usually cast as the seemingly-innocent one; the best friend who's actually the serial killer. Which are fun as well.

#9 - What happened to Machines of Malice, I saw the first episode forever ago on the Discovery Channel but was never able to catch any others.

I'd love to know! Sadly, once we shoot a project the talent is largely left out of the loop as far as air dates or post-production. We did shoot 3 episodes in addition to the 3 that have already aired on Discovery, but I believe those are still stuck in post-production hell. If I find out anything, I'll be sure to tweet about it.

#10 - The Guild has generated quite a large fan base on the web. Any crazy fanboy emails or marriage proposals or the like? (aside from this one!)

Hah! Why, thank you. No real marriage proposals, but I've gotten lots of mail from really lovely fans (interestingly, a lot of them are from overseas, so the language barrier makes the letters all the more..interesting. ;) I got one yesterday which was only the phrase "I love you" repeated six times in sparkly and animated fonts. I have no idea how he did it!

#11 - What are some of your hobbies and talents? Anything you can do that no one knows about until you do it like walking on your hands?

Sadly, I have no skill with hand-walking! I did gymnastics for about 9 months as a kid before realizing the long legs weren't exactly ideal for tight flips. I just started training in parkour, which is beating me up fairly well, but it's ridiculously fun. I also snowboard as much as possible; I taught for about half a season but just couldn't keep that up. I can also imitate a baby murloc sound PERFECTLY.

#12 - Do you ever think you'll stop acting someday and pick up another career?

God I hope not! Truthfully though, I doubt it; working part time in an agency you see that people get that career break at any age. Acting is something you truly can try to do for the rest of your life. The key is finding a secondary job that doesn't drive you crazy that will enable you to pursue acting as much as possible.

#13 - Any advice for any people with Zaboo-like qualities looking to someday make out with a tall hot FPS girl of their own? (yes this is a fluff question)

LOL. Don't show up on their doorstep with blue flowers!

#14 - (Last question!) Any future roles we should look out for with you in them?

I shot an iCarly episode for Nickelodeon a little while ago, but they shoot those episodes so far in advance that apparently it won't be out til 2010!! I'm hoping I'm in something else before then!!

Catch Michele on The Guild. New episodes started yesterday!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Guild

At this very moment, someone somewhere on your street is playing World of Warcraft. They may even be someone you know, or could even be your friend. But this is an elusive acquaintance. You may see them for a minute as they answer the door to quickly accept a delivered pizza. Or you may catch them outside your window dashing home to do whatever it is they do. Their girlfriends or boyfriends complain and form support groups for gaming widows and widowers. Close friends don't see them for days or weeks at a time, and co workers find they call in "sick" right when a new patch has come out. Yes, in this day and age everyone knows an MMO player, someone who throws money, time, and their very soul at an online computer game they pay subscriptions for. That person could be you, and if they are you then shame on you for flakinig on your friends to raid Naxxramas! But I digress, because in this age of MMO playing there is The Guild.

What is The Guild? The Guild is that group of people you or your lost friend, lover, or co worker belongs to while they're snorting the digital crack that is online video games. They are the online equivalent of the different archtypes of the corporate world, or highschool cliques. You'd know them online by their demeanor. Even geeks follow an hierarchy and in the geek/gamer world there are also douches, hotties, ubernerds, etc. But for all intents and purposes, The Guild are these people:

The Guild (from Left to Right): Bladezz, Vorik, Zaboo, Codex, Claira, Tink

The guild is an award winning web series written by and starring the lovely Felicia Day aka hot smoking geek goddessandomgilostmytrainofthoughtstaringatherboobiesandcanttypenormally. If you don't know who Felicia Day is, you are an awful communist work slacker and I hear you smell like goat cheese and pick your own boogers, but if you're reading this article then you either have some geek cred, or I strong armed you into reading it to validate my existence but nonetheless, Felicia Day is a quirky and extraordinary actress who's web series chronicles the lives of a group of MMO players. Day plays Syd Sherman aka Codex, a neurotic, awkward MMO player who plays an online video game with a guild of people who all happen to live in the same town. The show chronicles her life as she deals with Zaboo, an incredibly nerdy, delusional Hinjew (Hindu and Jew) guy who strong armed his way into her life as well as the rest of her guildmates. There's Vorik, the leader, who is also a cheap and slightly creepy middle aged guy in a suit. Claira, the ditzy and fun loving neglectful middle age parent. Tink, the bitchy and hot asian girl. And finally Bladezz, the arrogant and slightly douchie teenager. Bladezz is basically me, if I were better looking and had a spine as a teen, he's the shit starter I wish I was, but I digress.

In short, The Guild is awesome. But only if you play video games or are some form of nerd. Much of the humor is very MMO specific so people who wouldn't enjoy the series would be Amish, old folks, Luddites, and people from states whose fads are 10 years behind the times like Utah. But for those of us who do play games, it's the right brand of tongue in cheek humor, geek references, human drama and misery (the germans call it schadenfraude), and the talented Felicia Day.

To watch The Guild, click here. Season 3 has just started as of this post!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Practical Guide To Racism

First off I am asian, my senior thesis class in college was on celebrated black author James Baldwin, and my best friends are jewish, white, asian, pirate, and robot. Second off, my favorite authors are Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, which has influenced me to say whatever the hell I want when I want. Third off, if you're sensitive to race or humor in general, I highly suggest you listen to the song Everyone's A Little Bit Racist from the broadway hit Avenue Q here. Fourthly and this is the most important thing, this is my site and if you don't like it, blow me <3.

So when I was a young man, I was traveling through Spain with some friends. In one city, an old gypsy woman tried to grift me by putting sage leaf in my hand and telling my fortune in spanish. I of course had no money, so she in turn spat at me and cursed me with impotence, madness, and whatever the hell gypsies like to curse people with. So since then, I've disliked gypsies as shifty untrustworthy carnie folk. You might even say I'm a little bit...racist.

But racist, in the 21st century? Haven't we moved onto Star Trek-ish ideals where we can all tolerate one another in peace and harmony? Beautiful as that may sound, we're all human, and humans are stupid. It takes human stupidity to look at another human and dislike them for having a darker tan than you. Dave Chappelle had the right idea, race is an absurd perception, and stereotypes are funny because they're exaggerated truths. It's a quaint notion to think that we can move from hating people for what they look like to hating people for just being assholes but I digress.

So here comes A Practical Guide to Racism by C.H. Dalton. It is as the title; a practical guide. But racist? Not really. Sure there's a section on every ethnicity in the world as well as subgenres of every ethnicity, but racist, hardly. Sure it points out stereotypes, but stereotypes while racial in nature are rarely more mean spirited than any other complaints. Is it offensive? Yes, but like I said, it's only offensive to people who can't take a joke or can't see subtext; in other words it's offensive only to stupid people, which should be considered a race and have it's own chapter in this book. But reading this book, I learned so much about how awful Merpeople (people who live under the sea) are, and how the black man's greatest natural foe are ravenous sexually predatorial white women, also known as succubae. I also learned that you can even poke fun at dead races like the Babylonians and the Phoenicians too.

So is the Practical Guide to Racism Practical? Sort of. Does it inspire hate crimes? Hell no. Is there any real racism in it? Well there's a glossary of racial epithats, but you can find the same terms on so the final verdict is no. Worth reading? Yes it's worth reading. If anything it'd be great to leave on your coffee table to see people's reactions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dead Snow (2009)

In general, zombies are unpleasant neighbors.  Nazi zombies however, are worse.  Not only do they combine the inherent undeadliness of zombies with the inherent evil of nazis, they do it with military precision.  

Enter Dead Snow, a Norwegian love letter to all horror movies that involve a cabin in the woods.  The premise is a bunch of med students who don't need any real names are spending a weekend in a cabin in the middle of Norwegian nowhere during winter.  Like all college kids who do this in movies, their cars are parked far far away at the base of the mountain, there's no cell phone reception, and of course there's that mysterious something that they should've never fucked with, even if told they should never fuck with it.  

Undeterred, the kids do what anyone in their early 20's do during winter time, they drink, they play in the snow, they jostle and tussle like people do in Fox banner ads during their programming, it's a fun old time.  There's film geek guy, slutty girl, dorky guy, heroic nerdy guy, military trained guy, claustrophobia girl, and sisterly girl to the claustrophobia girl.  Suddenly our care free kids meet random old guy.  Random old guy, like all random old guys in horror films tell them a story that should've convinced them all to go wtf, lets get the hell out of here, but of course they ignore him.  Random old guy tells them that nazis use to steal gold from the people of the land and then dissappeared into the mountains and that the land is full of evil.  Naturally the kids find nazi gold shortly after, because apparently Norway is littered with nazi gold hidden in the ground.  What happens next is nothing short of brutal nazi zombie battling fun.  

Make no mistake, this movie is everything fun about zombie films combined with everything fun about movies where nazis are the main villains mixed with a heaping dose of Evil Dead homages.  One on one fisticuffs with zombies, explosions, chainsawing, instestinal rappeling (I'm not shitting you!), etc. etc.  It's a cornacopia of B movie cheesiness and grit.  And at it's heart there's a morality story, a leprechaun er nazichaun and their gold cannot stand to be parted from each other.  

Dead Snow gets five zombie Gomorrahs, one for each scene of instestinal fortitude.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"Come have a drink with us."
"I can't, I'm poor and work tomorrow," I reply.
"You can play Altered Beast on the MAME cabinet."
" had me at Altered Beast."

San Francisco drinkers, meet MAME. MAME is reliable, she's dependable, and she brings the fun. MAME is a classy dame. She's also an arcade cabinet with a hundred free emulated arcade games. MAME lives in Fly, Fly is a bar. So we have the Fly bar, and the MAME cabinet, and a happy writer. Because Fly is quite frankly a nice place to be.

If I never actually went in there, I'd discount Fly as another trendy hipster/Marina douchebag hive of scum and villainy, totally not the place yours truly would go to. But then I'd miss out on a pretty good watering hole, and sometimes I need a good watering like a chia pet. For lack of a better description, Fly really is where you'd expect trendy hipster people to go, it's got the ambient lighting, kitschy-ironic-post modern-modern art on the walls, and that clean scandanavian ikea-ish interior decorating. It's fairly big and modern but it's not pretentious like other places. The bartenders are friendly, and pour with a heavy hand; good for that nice buzz, bad for when last call comes along and you find yourself outside in the Transexual Transylvania part of the Tendernob. Yes, Fly is located smack dab in the zerg spawning bed of Tranny hookers. My first few times there I thought it was a trick of the lights against the window, or that someone put a roofie in my drink, but sure enough as it got later in the evening, the groups of young people walking outside started to transform and give way to square jaws, man hands, and fishnet stockings and feathered boas. Of course that has nothing to do with how Fly is as a business. The food itself is pretty damn tasty blend of traditional pub food and californian fusion and the pizzas do a good job of staving off hangover status. But the real gem is MAME in the backroom. Something about being able to drink, eat, and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for free in a bar makes it sound way cooler than doing it in a dorm room or a house.

Fly is located on the corner of Sutter and Larkin in the Tendernob border of Nob Hill and the Tenderloin. Expect lack of parking, drunk hipsters, and be careful of developing beer goggles, there are trannies everywhere at night.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek (2009)

Ages ago, in the days of web 1.0 there was a humble website called The Brunching Shuttlecocks. This was the stone age equivalent of CollegeHumor, the premiere source of time wasting circa late 90's to early 2000's. Well the Brunching folks had a Self Made Critic who while reviewing Star Trek 9, came up with this formula for Star Trek movies.

Start with 50 Points, then add or subtract accordingly:

-The Film was based on a TV episode: +20
-The Film featured one of the stars of 7th Heaven: +10
-The Film featured Spock's Father as Spock's Father: +5
-The Film featured Spock's Father as a Klingon: +10
-A major member of the series was killed during the film (either permanently or temporarily): -15
-The captain had some kind of new love interest (ex-wives do not count): +10
-The main story nothing to do with anyone related to a crew member: +10
-Star Trek got religion: -20
-There were extensive ship-to-ship battle scenes: +15
-The Enterprise was destroyed: -10
-The Film was directed by the first officer: +10
-The Film was directed by the captain: -10
-A guest star was once nominated for a Golden Globe Award: +5
-The film featured a minor actor in a minor role who would eventually become a regular cast member on a Star Trek series: + 5
-The crew of the Enterprise saved earth: +10
-The Film was really an allegorical allusion to how we, as a people, need to be nicer to each other: -15
-There was something weird going on with the all-logical/non-feeling character of Spock and/or Data: +5
-The crew of the Enterprise broke a direct order from Starfleet: -5
-Someone traveled through time: +5
-The Villain was a machine, a bunch of pansy whales, or God: -15
-The Villain was Mr. Roarke: +15

Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 75
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 90
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock: 50
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: 85
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: 5
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: 90
Star Trek: Generations: 70
Star Trek: First Contact: 120
Star Trek: Insurrection: 70
Star Trek: Nemesis: 70

So utilizing this formula, and depending on your interpretation or mine, the score for the newest film is between 100 and 130. In layman's terms, this movie is pure unbridled eye bacony (yes I made that word up) sex.

I am a Trekkie. If you're reading this, then you are one too, or you lost a bet, or I made you read this. Either way, I know my Trek. In fact before the movie even started I won a free popcorn by answering Star Trek trivia in front of the theater because I am that geeky. This movie is not my Star Trek. This is beyond my Star Trek. And yet it is my Star Trek. And it's everyone elses, it's the Ipod of Trek, friendly, accessible, loaded with good sound and display.

If you've ever followed any of the TV series, you know that Star Trek started as a cult show, became a pop culture giant, and then imploded on itself. The last movie didn't make money, the last series was cancelled. And then in the wake of reboot fever, the gods of Hollywood boldly went where everyone went before and tried to go where no one has gone before; making something ultra geeky ultra sexy. When I say this is not my Trek and yet it is, I use this example of how it works and if you're not afraid of spoilers then read on, this movie uses time travel. Did I spoil the movie for you? Only a little, but chances are if you're here then you already knew time travel was involved in the movie to some extent so I'm going to continue with this little tangent.

In one of my favorite Futurama episodes, Fry goes back in time and becomes his own grandfather. He is told not to mess with the past because it will affect the future. This is standard science fiction. So what does Fry do? Become his own grandfather. His fellow time travellers, seeing that he changed the past and forever altering time, literally say "take that causality" as they take their space ship and shoot up Area 51 whilst stealing a microwave dish, essentially flipping off the time space continuum. And you know what, the show continued on as Futurama, not Alternate Futurama, just Futurama. That is this movie.

Awesome to watch? See the formula above, it's a rollercoaster of a movie. It doesn't drag on, it doesn't beat you over the head with weighty philosophical questions like you'd expect from a Star Trek movie, yet it still showcases humanity at it's finest by showing how vulnerable we can be and how strong we can become. Expect what you'd expect from any of the series; shields fail, transporters save people in the nick of time, phasers stun, Bones is acerbic, Chekov talks funny, and Kirk tries to get jiggy with alien babes. We know these things, we expect these things because pop culture made us expect it. Would people who don't watch Star Trek like this movie? Yes, because it's made to be a great movie that just happens to be a sci fi. Would the hardcore Trekkies love it, even the crazy nitpickers who we all know lurk in their mother's basements? Yes, I'd even venture a double yes for the hardcore fans. Because like the Futurama episode, this movie says "take that causality," and in the end these are still the adventures of the starship Enterprise.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rollin' with a Sockit Wench

It was late July 2007 when I saw it. In the middle of an old aircraft hangar I saw two scantily clad women rolling around the concrete floor pummeling each other with their fists. In the background a Seattle punk band was playing music and there were several thousand people around me hooting and hollering with primitive fascination as we watched these two ladies scuffle. Seconds later, the fighting stopped. Was it an underground fight club I was in the middle of? No, it was roller derby. The victorious woman, known as Pia Mess, was fighting with the person on the other team that tripped her up and even though she was penalized for coming out swinging, she walked away with her head up high like she were the queen of the land. I was staring, I was yelling, I was getting turned on. This was fucking awesome.

Roller Derby has been around for almost a hundred years, but for some reason it never really caught on. As far as people were concerned throughout the years, it was a weird kitschy pseudo-sport akin to dodgeball or curling, something to be regulated to bored kids on the playground or ESPN 3-20 to fill up the time. That all changed in recent years.

So what is Roller Derby? Take roller skating, make it a race, add in elements of full contact hockey and rugby, give it some punk rock sensibilities, and bam, you got something magical. Throw in the fact that much of modern day Roller Derby is an indie sport that is predominantly women and you have a form of female empowerment that would put the 60's to shame. That's right Gloria Steinem, this is the new face of feminism, deal with it.

Where do you find Roller Derby? In old hangars, abandoned stadiums, wherever there is a lot of asphalt and bleachers, or in one case; Key Stadium where the Seattle Supersonics use to play. As of March 2009 there are over 77 leagues governed by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), each self-financed and regulated by large bodies of volunteers and supporters. They're not in it for the money or the fame, they're here to kick asses and take names.

These people will put you in the hospital and they'll do it with lipstick.

I recently had the opportunity to interview the lovely Sister Piston about Roller Derby. Sister Piston plays for the Sockit Wenches, one of the four teams that make up the Rat City Roller Girls based out of Seattle and for the record she can mop the floor with me, with you, and with your mom and she'd sleep like a baby afterwards.

Big Bad Sister Piston

#1 How long have you been doing Roller Derby?

2 years of training
2 years on a league
4 years total

#2 What drew you to the sport, how did you find out about it?

I saw the Rat City logo on a t-shirt (Sassy Chassis' t-shirt to be exact) and looked up the website. I asked to go see it for my birthday and I knew that day that I was going to do it. I told Mister Piston that I was going to do it and he said that he didn't think I was big enough. Boy did I prove him wrong.

#3 The Rat City Roller Girls recently started having bouts at Key Arena, how does it feel to be playing in an arena that's housed the Sonics?

It feels awesome. This team isn't going to just up and leave Seattle because of a business deal...we are Seattle.

I think it's wonderful to have the city, arena staff and sponsors be so supportive of us and to enable us to play in a more professional venue. I hope we get to stay a good long time.

The best part is that we no longer have to turn away fans. Last year, every bout sold out because of a smaller venue size...this year, folks can come and try it out and never worry about finding a place to sit and watch.

#4 Since derby is an indie sport, how much work goes into setting up games, ie funding and promotion?

I honestly think we've moved just beyond indie sport into rising sport given the growth, popularity and the fact that it's managed the test of time very well. The revival has been going strong for at least 6 or 7 years now and shows no signs of slowing with international leagues popping up all over the world.

The work that goes into it is unmeasurable. Girls are warned that they can expect a non-paying part time job when the look to join the league and it is more than true. Every aspect of the work is done, organized, managed or planned by the skaters and their friends.

There are girls that commit more time than a full time job to the sport in addition to practice and skating. There are also girls that do much less than a part time job, but when you step back and look at the situation, you see that these girls are also juggling school, a family and work on top of that.

Most of us lie somewhere in the middle doing that part time job thing.

#5 How strong are the rivalries between local teams, if you see each other on the streets is there any West Side Story-ish confrontations or is it all hugs and kisses?

There's an adage in the sport that what happens on the track stays on the track. I think that we are lucky that this is true about 98 percent of the time. Every once in a while gals lose a bit of self control and harsh words are exchanged, but for the most part, the drama gets left behind at the whistle.

That's not to say that rivalries aren't extremely strong...they are. All of us want to win. No one wants to lose...and there have definitely been some weird interpersonal things that have lead to tension between specific teams. I think it adds to the experience.

Hell has no fury like a woman scorned right?

#6 Whats the worst injury you've sustained while playing?

Hmm...I'm knocking on wood right now because I've been lucky so far.

I'd say the worst was a dislocated/separated shoulder (not sure what the official diagnosis was). I wasn't even in a game, just doing a drill and landed with all of my weight right on the top of my shoulder popping it out. I was laying in bed that night and rolled onto it and heard the biggest "chunk" sound and it popped back in and I dropped about an inch. I'll tell ya, it was like that whole, ripping the tape off the skin fast thing. It was a lot less painful after that one moment.

#7 Do you foresee retiring from the sport, or will they have to pry the skates off your cold dead feet someday?

I'm going for the cold dead feet stance. I think even when I am too broken to play anymore I will be involved with coaching or some other aspect. It's really a big part of my life and it's done so much good for me that I can't bear the thought of saying goodbye to it completely.

#8 Since derby is all self financed, how much would a typical derby player end up shelling out over a year?

I would say around....$1000 for gear and dues per year. But it's really hard to tell because you've got transportation costs to go to practice and meetings like 7 days a week, you end up spending money and fundraisers because we all tend to want to support each other and if girls can afford it they often spend a good deal on airfare to go to boot camps and RollerCon to become even better. Then there's the medical costs. Those are the big whammy.

I've said often that this is not a poor woman's sport. It's like polo have to expect to drop some serious cash at some point.

#9 How can the fans help out besides showing up at games?

Check out the volunteer options. There's almost always something someone can do to help set things up or tear down.

And SPONSOR SPONSOR SPONSOR! If you own a business or you know someone that owns a business....start talking/thinking sponsorship. Nothing makes the derby world rock more than a good sponsor. Except winning a game.

Every dollar counts, buy merchandise, talk to your boss about a great advertising opportunity...spread the word.

#10 Any memorable bouts you'd like to share with our readers?

I would say the most memorable bout has to be one where I was just a wee beginner. It was the championship game the year before last Sockit Wenches vs Derby Liberation Front (insert speech about bitter rivalry here), my second game to play ever....I was pretty much just trying not to fall down and keep up with the pack at that point.

Our captain, and one of our star jammers, Drew Blood gets hit by Kitty Kamikaze and doesn't get up. This was not good. Our team was pretty shaken and during the half time many of us went to see her in the EMT area (just a sheet on a string back then) and she kept telling us all that she was fine, just out for the game.

So we go back and manage to win it, for her. We found out after the game that she had four broken vertebrae in her back and was high on morphine when we were all talking to her.

#11 How much has derby impacted your life?

I would say it's changed my life completely. I went from being a shy introvert behind a computer every day of my life to an outgoing, active and strong individual who isn't afraid of looking silly in the quest for finding more joy in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I still love computers. But now I know how to talk to people without a qwerty.

Catch Sister Piston and the Rat City Roller Girls in championship action on May 30th, 2009 at Key Stadium in Seattle.
Photography credits: Jules Doyle aka Axle Adams

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tortilla Heights

You can find good Mexican in San Francisco pretty easily. Being a town full of foodies, the people who live in this city know that good Mexican food is abundant and cheap. So it stands to reason that expensive Mexican food would be superior in every way. I mean instead of meat from questionable sources, they'd have meat from Nimon Ranch so it's gotta be better, right? Wrong, dead wrong, terribly wrong. Case in point, Tortilla Heights.

Anyone whose been around the block looking for a good burrito will tell you that a good Mexican place will be kind of divey, the staff will have dubious American Citizenship, everything on the menu is inexpensive, and if it's not a taco truck; it's a building in a ghetto-ish area. Tortilla Heights is none of these things. For one thing, Tortilla Heights is located in the Pacific Heights rich person neighborhood. It also has a tiki bar decor, which implies to me that rich people have confused Mexicans with Hawaiians. Not only that, but everyone who was a server looked like they came from a sorority. I would've been fine with all of these had my food been good, or had it been cheap, but alas it was neither.

After dinner with a good dozen of my cohorts, the general consensus was Tortilla Heights had some of the blandest Mexican food this side of the border. My chimichunga was literally flavorless. The meat inside had no seasoning or marinade, nor did it have any ingredients beyond the meat that would add any sort of taste to it. It was also $12 dollars. For $12 I could've eaten at two or even three places in the Mission District and tasted something more flavorful. The person next to me had an appetizer plater of nachos, which would sound appealing except the cheese they used looked and tasted like the cheese you have to pump out of a 7-11 nacho station. Looking at the faces of everyone at the end and it was unanimous, this place sucked. If there was any one saving grace, it was the churros. However, it's hard to fuck up fried dough with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on it so that's not saying much.

Overall, Tortilla Heights is a bland and pricey experience. The ingredients taste fresh, and wont make you sick but it's no Celia's or Tommy's as far as gourmet Mexican goes. Even worse, if you're thinking of stopping by there for a cool margarita on a hot day you'd be greated by some of the worst ventilation in any building. I assume it's to simulate the mexican heat, but no air conditioning or open windows on a hot day probably constitutes a crime somewhere. My recommendation, walk down the street to Japan Town and get ramen instead.

Tortilla Heights is located on the corner of Divisadero and Bush in Pacific Heights.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Royal Ground Coffee

Living in a crazy town like San Francisco, you find yourself surrounded by caffeine addicts. Being the drinking town of the west, a hub of finance, and well land of the weird insomniacs, coffee is our lifeline. We are Seattle's best friend, which is probably why Seattle and San Francisco have the same vibe. In any case, coffee is our brown gold and we crave it like zombies crave brains, we're coffee zombies.

Royal Ground Coffee is a coffee zombie's friend. Coffee, breakfast, hot and cold sandwiches for vegetarians and meatagetarians, wi-fi, and a laundromat. It's not a beatnik place, or a place for suits, it's just a neighborhood coffee shop, the place you go to relax in before and after you get wasted. It's like the snuggie of coffee shops.

Walking into the place, it has a very open feeling from the high ceilings, it doesn't feel cramped, nor does it feel yuppy-like. The menus are done in chalk, a sign of any good establishment, and there's a lot of good options for beverages and deli sandwiches. I highly recommend the Cafe Mocha due to it tasting more chocolatey than most mocha coffees your's truly has had in a while. The Chai is also nice, even though I think there's no such thing as bad chai unless it's made from asses and dirt.

As for other amenities, there's free wifi, which gets ridiculously heavy use; a laundromat directly connected to the joint; and the crown jewel of any establishment, a crazyish owner and a sweet and sassy barista. It's as homey as D clown.

Royal Ground Coffee is located on the corner of Fillmore and Pine St. You are encouraged to tip heavily, TIP HEAVILY.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Frag Dolls: Heartbreakers and Lifetakers

If I could describe the Frag Dolls as anything, I would use the term Badass Chicks. Employed by Ubisoft, the Frag Dolls are a group of female gamers who compete professionally in tournaments, market and promote Ubisoft games, and are at the forefront of promoting female gamers as a whole. Easy on the eyes, busier than a bee, and deadly with the controller, these girls do it all including earning the distinction of being the first all female team to win a pro circuit tournament when they won first place in the Rainbow Six: Vegas tournament at CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) 2006.

The Frag Dolls circa 2008

I recently had the opportunity to interview Brookelyn of the Frag Dolls. Brookelyn was one of the original members of the team and continues to promote women in the gaming industry today as part of the team. I thank Brookelyn and the rest of the Frag Dolls for the opportunity.

The lovely Brookelyn

#1 - The Frag Dolls have the leader of Clan PMS as one of their members. Does that ensure a very close relationship with the members of Clan PMS (i.e. when recruiting new dolls, promotion, etc.)

Not necessarily with PMS alone, every girl that supports us and tends to be more active in our forums will definitely outshine over candidates. I would consider spending time at our events and around our forums an advantage. It allows us to get to know the girl in more depth. We have the opportunity to see her skills and personality vs. a girl we know nothing about, other than her application herself. With that said, this by no means determines the outcome. Example: Former Frag Doll Calyber- we knew nothing about her, but fell in love with her resume, video and gaming skills. We disappointed a lot of our friends, but we knew in our hearts Calyber was a perfect match for us.

#2 - As employees of Ubisoft is there more demand and pressures to be great at the "company product" when competing in tournaments with Ubisoft games in them? (I.e. if you're not good at Rainbow Six Vegas 2, you're fired!)

Ubisoft has always been great in supporting us, win or lose. They would never fire us for not being the best, especially because they know how much hard work we put into training for these tournaments.

#3 - The Frag Dolls have been around for several years, do you feel it's easier to for people to accept a female professional gamer now that there are more female gamers in general, or harder because of the perception that most female gamers are casual gamers?

So much easier! Each year that goes by, I see more and more women becoming competitive in gaming. I remember my first year playing competitively for MLG, it seemed like the girls that did attend the event were just there to support/watch their boyfriends compete. It blows my mind how much girls in gaming have grown. When I first started with PMS (Pandora Might Soldier’s) there was only 10 members- 4 ½ years later, it’s over 500. Crazy huh? I’m really close with a lot of the girls in PMS and I have been competing with them for years. I know firsthand how competitive they are.

#4 - The Frag Dolls seem to combine a gaming team, with a marketing team, with a community management team. Which of those aspects seem the hardest?

I think the marketing side was more of a challenge for me. I was very anti-social before becoming a Frag Doll. Having to do interviews, press, and TV were all very scary for me at first. The marketing side of Frag Dolls has given me the tools to grow in this industry. I have learned so much! It has made me more confident, knowledgeable and strong.

#5 - Valkyrie and former doll Calyber are both on WCG Ultimate Gamer. Does this mean we'll see more Dolls in the future installments of that show?

You're not going to get any spoiler’s outta me. I will say…I love the show! Finally, a well produced gaming show that allows the main stream audience to see all aspect of competitive gaming. Did you watch episode 2 yet, when Valkyrie went head to head with Kelly Kelley (Ms. Violence)? It was so intense!

#6 - How would you feel about competing against your teammates in a tournament if it was nothing but singles matches?

We do it all the time in practice. It is way more challenging, because we have played together for so long; we know exactly what they’re going to do before they do it. As far as competing against them on a professional level, I would hate every moment of it! We have to compete against PMS all the time during Major League Gaming tournaments. It’s always sad when you have to knock out your friends.

#7 - With the number of lady gamers in the world growing each year, do you think Ubisoft would ever turn your team coed if we reached a point where the gamer population was half women or more?

I personally don’t think it will ever go co-ed, but I do think people will be seeing us sub in players for upcoming tournaments. Frag Dolls is a part-time job, and sometimes we have different events happening in our life that doesn’t allow us to compete with the team at the moment. To ensure the remaining of the girls get to compete, we will and have subbed players in, boy or girl. It just depends who works best with us as a team.

#8 - The UK Fragdolls and the French Fragdolls were recently disbanded, any word on why Ubi decided that?

I’m not sure about why the UK and France Ubisoft offices decided to disband the team. From what I read in their farewell blog, it seemed that they were headed off to exciting new adventures. That is one great thing about being a Frag Doll; so many opportunities come our way. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them was working for NASA now. :P

#9 - Any fun stories you'd like to share from traveling around the country competing and promoting?

There is just too many to share them all. I’m very easy when it comes to being entertained. I’m originally from Wichita, Kansas, so even going somewhere like Kentucky or North Carolina was fun for me. I did get invited to attend the Golden Globes this year. I got to teach celebrities how to play Ubisoft titles. It was amazing!

#10 - (The Fluff Question) As a group of fairly attractive gamer girls travelling around the country, how often do people ask you guys out/propose to you guys?

Not as much anymore. In the beginning it seemed like all the time, but now that more and more girls are gaming we aren’t considered rare treasures as much anymore. This is fine for me; I get shy with that type of attention.

Friday, January 30, 2009

M4 Airsoft Assault Rifle

"What's it like having a gun?"
"It's like having two cocks, if one of your cocks could kill someone."
-Mclovin and Officer Michaels in Superbad

Much like the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story, I spent my holidays trying to obtain a BB gun. Much like A Christmas Story, I feared shooting my eye out. However, unlike A Christmas Story I am not a young child, and the following product is not a Red Ryder BB Gun but an M4 Airsoft Rifle from Why would I buy an airsoft rifle you ask? The official reason I give, to chase seagulls away from my home, but the truth is the same as why anyone gets a gun or gun like product, to shoot things.

For the low price of 24.99 off, the M4 is a bargain basement level entry gun. It's accurately scaled and detailed enough that you could scare your roommates with it if you wanted to. The gun itself comes with a multitude of accessories such as a laser sight, blue LED flashlight, tactical harness, speed loader, and for those who fear shooting their eyes out, safety goggles. In short, if you have the burning need to shoot something but don't want to deal with things like waiting periods and the law and the temptation to go postal with nerd rage, an M4 Airsoft Rifle is a good alternative.

The only bad thing is that for such a low price, you kind of get what you paid for. The picatinny rail is a pain to slide things onto and the assembly instructions are in terrible engrish. The three point harness comes disassembled and going off the diagrams it's almost impossible to assemble it at all. But overall, if you wanna shoot and are on a budget, this is your gun. I give it a solid 3 1/2 gun toting Gomorrahs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Outlander (2009)

As a rule, Vikings are some of the toughest people to walk the Earth. Their no nonsense courage in the name of Odin have lead them to explore America and create Ikea and those are some ballsy achievements. So it's rather surprising that there aren't many movies about vikings out there. Despite recent films like Pathfinder and Beowulf, the big screen has been rather Norse free and the Norse we see were not as engaging. It seemed like something was lacking, a mysterious ingredient of success that eluded the viking movie's path towards badassery. The answer was simple, aliens.

Outlander is a mashup of genres. It's the spawn of Beowulf and Aliens with a heaping spoonful of character depth and for good measure, Ron Perlman. It's the tale of how Kainan aka Passion of the Christ Jesus, crash lands his spaceship onto our planet circa Viking times. Stuck on a primitive planet he finds he didn't make it off his ship alone. See, our spaceman Kainan was transporting a beast, and not just any beast, but one made from glowy lights, teeth, and the best bloodthirsty ferocity CGI can come up with. This isn't just an alien monster, it's an ALIEN MONSTER AHHHH RUN type of monster. And even worse, without his fancy ship and it's technology he has to rely on the help of vikings when it gets loose and starts snacking.

Cue the vikings, and they really are vikings. There's the old viking king who wants to protect his people from the monster. There's his spirited daughter who doesn't try to be this female Rambo feminist cliche even though she can wield a sword. There's the viking champion who covets the throne but isn't quite a douche but isn't quite a hero either and his alcoholic warrior buddy. They see the world as vikings do, hunting, pillaging, eating and drinking. It's a good life for them till the spaceman shows up and the monster begins to eat people including a rival village, giving the vikings the double threat of being eaten and being hacked to death in reprisal. But with the help of our hero and his intergalactic know how, they start forming ideas on how to stop said beasty.

In the end, Outlander is just a fun movie with surprising depth to it. It never tries to be more serious than it is, and it's got a lot more polish than typical B movie fare. The acting itself is pretty good and the characters actually have some growth to them so they aren't one dimensional throwaways to be eaten. I give Outlander four viking Gomorrahs, at least until I implement the 80's Robot Scale of Awesome (TM).