Archive for the 'Sports' Category

Minnesota Rollergirls season starts Saturday

There are few things in life that never get old: Strongbow in 17 ounce cans, Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin and watching women in roller skates and fishnet stockings beating the living hell out of each other.

I have very fond memories of my first (and only) Rollergirls bout last March, so I’m genuinely starting to lose my shit in anticipation of the Minnesota Rollergirls return to Roy Wilkins Auditorium this Saturday (October 18th), when the All-Stars take on the Northwest Arkansas Rollergirls. There’ll also be a Pirates versus Zombies themed bout which will feature this year’s badass rookies, several of whom were profiled in last week’s City Pages.

I’ll be there, sitting on rink-side cement, as a personal guest of rookie and City Pages covergirl Skullateral Damage. While keeping one hand over my totally uninsured gonads in case of spectator-cushioned wipeouts, I’ll keep the other poised and ready to take digital video of what I hope will be a statement-making, bench-clearing brawl in the first five minutes that’ll put the fear of God into those heathen Northwest Arkansas Rollergirls.

I’ve also appointed myself to Hooligan Patrol. Since parts of my previous Rollergirl experience were sullied by two members of the Misogynistic, Beer Stank, Little Dick Society of White Bear Lake, I’ve armed myself with an official Minnesota Rollergirl 14″ rubber dildo (available in the gift shop for $17.99), with which I fully intend to menace spectators that get out of hand. Admittedly, a dildo-packing travel writer won’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of many, so in extreme cases I’ll have a flare gun that, when fired, will halt the match and bring every skater in the house over for little amateur chiropractor work using nothing but roller skates and a folding chair.

Now, I’m not a religious man, but…

Dear Buddha,

Please let there be a bench-clearing brawl, please let there be a bench-clearing brawl, please let there be a bench-clearing brawl.

Your humble, usually pacifist minion,


Minnesota Rollergirls events schedule

Sports | 15.10.2008 16:06 | 2 Comments

Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf

Having recently turned 38 – that is, 38 in chronological years, whereas I’m around 75 in cynical years – my already dwindling concern with what people think about me has all but evaporated. It’s one of the things that I revel in with regards to getting older: the confidence, comfort and wisdom to not give two shits about people’s perceptions of what I do, say or wear. Seriously, screw you guys.

What was formerly a huge source of anxiety is just plain gone and it sure is great to have that extra mental processing power to devote to more important things (like boobies). I’ll say pretty much anything in my blogs now, I don’t care who gets offended:

“Fart-bomb, Titicaca, fuckwit, 69.”

“Obnoxiously Loud, Attention-Starved, Little Dick Motorcycle Club.”

Armpit bang.”

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

But I suffer the occasional self-conscious relapse. For example, if the words ‘Walker’ and ‘Artist-Designed’ weren’t attached to it, I’m not entirely sure I’d have the nerve to announce that I was going to play mini golf without some kind of elaborate cover-story, preferably between the ages of five and 12, to validate the outing.

As it was, my companion and I weren’t the only ones unaccompanied by children, paying good money to play mini golf at the Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf. Indeed, there was a full-on mob of self-proclaimed grownups enthusiastically taking part, though unsurprisingly the place was also crawling with nasty, dirty, unsupervised little people who were not only being seen and heard, but also getting in my way, but I digress…

We passed on the opportunity to play all 13 holes on account of me coming down with a sudden case of Starving to Death, which anyone who’s spent any time around me knows must be attended to immediately. As it was, resolving to do only one of the two courses brought up an early conundrum: which course to play? The bubbly girl selling tickets, familiar with this timeless deliberation, broke down the difference between the two courses with practiced ease…

“Do you want to play the competitive one or the fun one?”

“The fun one,” my companion and I blurted in eerie unison. I don’t know what her motives were, but I wanted to avoid getting into any kind of heated competition with this usually good-natured woman, as she’d just successfully auditioned for the Rollergirls earlier in the week and it’d had an instant impact on her aggression quotient. Those chicks are like Wookies, they like to pound and yank off important extremities when things don’t go their way. Also, I just loathe competition in general, which is why I never invite single men to my parties.

The holes on the ‘blue’, aka ‘fun’, aka ‘interactive’ course ranged from curious, to perplexing to impossible. There were a few holes that might have completely thwarted us if we hadn’t had the benefit of observing the bumbling efforts of the people in front of us and learning from their mistakes, who in turn did the same with the people in front of them… I’d hate to be in the first group of players each day. I bet when they get a load of that bicycle/pinball contraption, everything comes to a screeching halt and the delays ripple all the way back to the ticket line.


Fortunately there were plenty of people ahead of us to learn from, so our mistakes didn’t look nearly as mirthful, like on that hand-crank, ball-lifting, step thingie that, if you put too much muscle into it, your ball jumped off the track, forcing you to start over if you wanted to stick to the ancient Mini Golf Code of Mesopotamia, which we did.

The only exception to learning from other’s mistakes was the utterly impossible hole where it looked as if a giant, busty woman had flopped down face-first on the course, leaving an upper body imprint around a ridiculously placed hole hidden between the ‘neck’ and ‘breasts’. Those dual chasms doubled as hopeless water hazards that could’ve reduced Tiger Woods himself to wretched cursing if not for all the wee, impressionable ones standing around heckling (e.g. “Mommy, that man sucks!”).

The dreaded hand-crank step-thingiePutting out of the water-filled, reverse gazongasPedal backwards, play pinball and retort hecklers simultaneously

Some nights, mini golf/art fans queue up for 15-30 minutes for the pleasure of having their putting skills publicly critiqued by other people’s precious little angels. The wild popularity of the Artist-Designed Mini Golf was a given after the success of the first project in 2004. A heartening green/recyclable theme was once again evident, as well as wholehearted support of local artists. Per the Walker web site: “Designers range from independent artists and architects to members of established companies and design collectives. All are registered with, an online clearinghouse and resource for Minnesota artists of all stripes.”

Thankfully, the evening we played, with my death by malnourishment imminent, there was no waiting to get started and even with the bottlenecks at the more challenging holes, we were through the course in less than 30 minutes. It was a great outing for a beautiful Minneapolis evening and a friendly atmosphere where players freely helped/cheered one another. Quintessential Minnesota. Except for those good-for-nothing kids, who’ve clearly been enjoying too much South Park and too little fear of God.

Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf
Through September 7th.
$8 one course, $14 for two, $6 for Walker members seniors & students, $4 for children

Events, Sports | 7.07.2008 11:37 | 4 Comments

This is why I love Bill’s Gun Shop

target.jpgDoes anyone else have that friend where everything they say or do is peculiar at best and cause for alarm at worst? Trying out for the Rollergirls at age 38? Taking up the accordion? Rather than just humoring me a little, wanting to seriously learn how to juggle?

So, when I casually said to this person, “What do you want to do?” on a recent weekday night, thinking along the lines of a nice walk, ice cream or shopping for my replacement hip, I shouldn’t have been surprised when she said “Let’s go fire lethal weapons at pieces of paper and scare ourselves shitless!”

Actually, it was much less spontaneous than that. The dubious suggestion was made a week in advance, giving us time to figure out the one, and possibly only, place in the Twin Cities where you can walk in off the street having never touched a real firearm in your life and be fretfully squeezing off 9mm bullets in a matter of minutes, Bill’s Gun Shop.

We were full-on terrified before we even touched the guns we eventually chose: a Springfield EMP and a Beretta 92FS. This was largely due to the nonchalance of the nice man that helped us get started at Bill’s basement firing range. We were candid about the fact that we’d never touched handguns in our lives, so he patiently demonstrated and explained the pros and cons of several guns during the decision making process, including a ludicrously enormous ‘bear gun’ that looked like it could vaporize a rhino.

However, once we’d settled on the guns, he was like “OK, here you go! Enjoy!” And we were all “Um, can you show us how to use these so one of us doesn’t commit an accidental murder-suicide?”

Actually, the firing range guy was far more cautious than I make it sound. It just seemed as if that there should be more, you know, supervision before handing over semi-automatic weapons to two people turning stark white with panic.

He demonstrated the barrel slide twice at our request. Showed us the safety, how to load, how to hold the gun so as not to get ‘bitten’ by the hammer, and where to point the gun at all times or else.

It was finally time to throw the birds out of the nest. We donned our dollar-store eye and ear protection and inched into the firing range through the double muffler doors just as an overly-confident, overly-compensating man was demonstrating his shotgun proficiency to his young, impressionable girlfriend. It was very loud. The sound alone felt like I was being shot in the brainstem and my sphincter narrowed to first-night-in-prison tautness. We shakily loaded our clips during this racket and my companion, forgetting that this was all her idea, shoved me forward to take the first shots.

For such a tiny gun, the Springfield had a kickback that felt like I was catching Johann Santana’s warm-up pitches. Every time I pulled the trigger it felt like the gun was going to explode out of my hands and embed itself three inches into my beautiful, beautiful forehead. The Beretta’s kickback was less violent, but it felt as if my aim was less accurate. I say this as someone who only made a passing effort to aim, being far more concerned about averting death-by-self-pistol-whipping.

The Springfield clip only held eight rounds, so it was quickly my companion’s turn with the Beretta (15 rounds). Going completely wooden and succumbing to alarm that was plainly visible through the back of her head, she carefully and admirably emptied her clip into the bull’s-eye target we’d picked out. I learned later that she’d held her breath for about five minutes. When you factor in the near-asphyxiation, her aim was exceptional.

After another round, we switched to the human outline target, passing up more creative targets like Osama bin Laden and douchebag-with-your-sister photos.

Though Tiny Dick Shotgun Man had left, someone new had arrived with a handgun that was just as loud, which caused no shortage of distraction and involuntary flinching as we went about blasting our 100 rounds of ammunition.

All told, we were only in the gun range for about 30 minutes. The post-traumatic stress took about three hours to shake off, even with the help of an M&M Blizzard at DQ. The upshot is that apparently my ass looks really hot when I’m firing a gun. Yours would too if you were flexing enough to dead-lift a car.

And you know what? It wasn’t all that expensive.

Gun rental: $15 (first gun), $10 (second gun)
Range fee (two people sharing): $30
Hearing/eye protection rental: $4
50 round box of 9mm ammo: $13.99 x 2 = $27.98
Targets: $2
Tax: $5.92
Total: $94.90 or $47.45 per person

It was a memorable experience and despite the purposefully self-inflicted anxiety that most people pay good money to medicate, we enjoyed ourselves. It was fun like jumping out of an airplane is fun when you’re afraid of heights. Once pretty much does the job. Needless to say, however, I get to pick what we do on our next outing. I’m thinking a Valium tasting.

Incidentally, why don’t they have Valium tastings here? Sometimes I wonder why I ever came back to America.

Bill’s Gun Shop & Range
4080 W. Broadway Ave N.

Sports | 22.06.2008 17:01 | 2 Comments

This is why I love the Minnesota RollerGirls

rollergirls.jpgT, A, bloodlust – what’s not to love?

I was fully expecting my first attendance at a Minnesota RollerGirls bout to be awesome, but Buddha help me, the experience was so beyond awesome that my limited edition of the “Directory of Mega-Evocative Adjectives” has failed to do justice to the experience.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, exposed cleavage and ass cheeks aside, this is a genuine sport. Nothing is staged. The girls aren’t cast-offs from Texas body building leagues or retired strippers from Nevada. The RollerGirls are just a bunch regular women that like skating, competition and inflicting debilitating pain.

This is not a joke, many of these girls are flat-out mean – born and bred. Most had a criminal record by the 3rd grade. But it’s heartening to see that they’re not so consumed with unchecked rage that it inhibits creativity and wit when it comes time to select their menacing player pseudonyms, so as to invoke fear and loathing in their competitors and preventing creepy fans from stalking them. Names like “Punish Mint Patty”, “Kim Jong Kill”, “Frau Scientits” and “Ji Spot” are brilliance that primetime sitcom writers can only dream about – and you know none of those pasties ever sterilized a home room teacher with a staple remover.

gardabelts.jpgFrom the moment of the first whistle, when the elbows started flying and the first shove caused a girl to fly into a happy geek’s lap, I was in awe. The flat, slippery corners at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium mean that speed is limited and spinouts guaranteed – ring-side spectators often come away with skate-shaped shin dimples. Flagrant penalties were frequent and celebrated. Not like those drama queens in soccer or basketball when the accused gets a pathetically incredulous “who me?” look after committing a foul. When a RollerGirl trips and face-plants a competitor, they skate to the penalty box with joyous satisfaction, gesturing at the crowd as if to say “Look at me! I dislocated that girl’s ankle! I own this track, mufucckkaaaaahhhss!!”

At half-time the Dance Band played to the euphoric audience that rushed the track to dance. I was too sober to get into it, due to the Roy Wilkins bar’s inability to serve more than one patron every seven minutes. I had to console myself with a $2.75 Snickers and the knowledge that their wine probably wasn’t fit for cleaning automotive components anyway.

The second half was inconceivably more violent than the first. There were times when the penalty box had three or four girls cooling their wheels at once. Checks and shoves were brazen, falls were bone-crushing and bruised knees and asses multiplied. One girl’s shirt was nearly torn clean off. The end of one particularly brutal bout was punctuated with a bench-clearing brawl, which was inconveniently held on the back side of the track so we couldn’t see who was doing what to whose kidneys. It was just outstanding.

As sweet and wholesome as an evening with the RollerGirls can be, the action unfortunately attracts a certain unpalatable element in the audience. Just behind us sat a couple of early-40s, Abercrombie & Finch-wearing douchebags that had just seemingly completed their annual recertification at the Chris Farley School of Gentlemanly Conduct and Sobriety. Nostalgic for their days at the frat house, these f*ckwits were in top form making asses of themselves from the moment the bout started. Our eye-rolling at their foot pounding and incoherent screaming turned to horror after Buffy the Vampire Skater was sent to the penalty box (directly in front of us) and they started hollering “Come over here and suck my dick Buffy!!” Either Buffy didn’t hear them or she showed Academy Award winning poise by not turning around and skating over their testicles. Mercifully, the douchebags got wholly distracted by the beer table during the first break and weren’t seen or heard from again until just before the night ended when they remembered why they’d come to the Roy in the first place.

I’d like to go again this weekend, but alas I’ll be half way around the planet scuttling around Micronesia, enjoying beaches, pristine waters, world-class diving and pseudo-Vegas dinner shows with Japanese budget tourists for travel journalism posterity.

So, if you think about it, I’m really the travel writing version of a RollerGirl. I’m dedicated, I’m cruel, I have a funny name and I totally sacrifice the bod.


Sports | 18.03.2008 9:03 | 8 Comments