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Thursday, September 25, 2008


Right before I left New York, I noticed that the annual “street fair of death” had come to my neighborhood again, with it its questionable, rickety rides designed to thin out the population, one carnival ticket at a time.

Oh, they don’t CALL it the “street fair of death,” because they don’t care about the truth. They call it a fun fair. That’s exactly what they called that festival of bad ideas I went to in the Midwest, where the biggest attraction was a crane manned by two fourteen year old guys—the one that had a cardboard sign that said, “crane rides $5” and when you gave them the $5 they would hoist you up and swing you.

And people thought I was crazy for refusing to do it.

But any of you who have read this blog for longer than a minute know that I have a healthy appreciation of fear. I am good with fear, in the same way that some people are good with wine.

But all of that is hastily put aside for Roller Derby.

I was first introduced to the glories of the Roller Derby by my friend Winchester Grey, who runs the internet.* Winchester said he felt strongly that I would enjoy the derby. And he was right. Then we started bringing Scott and Justine, and they loved it. And recently, we started bringing Robin Wasserman, who also seemed to like it, but with the healthy Harvard skepticism for which she is justifiably famous.

Here’s how Roller Derby basically works . . .

There are all these SUPER COOL GIRLS (in this case, of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, which is the New York league) with excellent names like Suzy Hotrod and Besonslay and Stevie Kicks and Surly Temple. Each team has one person going around the track called a Jammer. Her job is to whip around the track, scoring points. Meanwhile, basically EVERYONE ELSE ON THE OTHER TEAM is trying to STOP HER by BLOCKING HER through AWESOME FULL-BODY CONTACT. And, of course, they are doing this all on roller skates while going super-fast and wearing excellent outfits, and everyone in the stands is SCREAMING for MORE BLOOD.

Can you find one thing in that not to like? Even one?

So, Scott also blogged about how completely excellent Roller Derby is, and a Roller Derby princess named Em-Dash (she is also an editor—HOW EXCELLENT IS THAT?) wrote and said, “Would you like to come as our guest? And sit in VIP seats?”

To which we said, YES, PLEASE.

So we got to the Roller Derby and were pointed toward where we would be sitting, which was quite near the Bad Girl seats. (When they players are bad, they sit in these. They usually SKID up to the them on their KNEES and crash into the chairs for fun.)

We were just getting ourselves situated, Justine, Scott, Robin, and I, when someone came over to us and said, “Do you know what they call this section you are in? The CORNER OF DEATH. This is where a lot of the players lose control coming around the bend and CRASH INTO THE STANDS at about a hundred miles an hour.”

Robin and Justine looked a little wide-eyed at this, and Scott and I smiled and said, “Coooooooooool.”

For a while, Justine and Robin wanted to convince us that death by flying roller derby girl would be bad, but Scott and I just didn’t get it. I have always assumed that I will die in some absurd way, anyway, like that playwright who bought it when a low-flying eagle dropped a tortoise on his head.** Death by roller derby girl is several steps up from what I have been imagining for myself, so I am okay with it.

To give you some sense of how completely wonderful it was, here are some pictures Scott took:


More awesome

Awesome cheerleaders

I see from the website that there are tryouts in December. Which brings me back to the point that I want to be a Gotham Girl very, very badly. However, when I said that thing about how I would not be afraid of being in the roller derby? I meant the other thing, the thing in which I am ACUTELY TERRIFIED of being in the roller derby. I hate injury and death, I really do. I would be very good with the making up of the name-wearing the uniform-skating in circles around the track thing . . . but the part where you get chased and slammed into walls and body-checked . . . that is where I might fail. The only thing I can think of that might work in my favor is that I have a POWERFUL WILL TO LIVE and I might be good at running (or skating) away from people who want to kill me.

I mean, this is what the crowd looks like. They make it clear what they want.

Rabid fans

Maybe I should keep with the writing instead. I have enough of it to do.

But! I promised today that I would be announcing the winners of the SUITE SCARLETT SWEEPSTAKES! I love the truth, so I will fulfill this promise.

Back at the start of the summer, I told you about a sweepstakes Scholastic was having for Suite Scarlett, in which the grand prize winner got a trip for two to New York City, a stay in a fancy hotel, and the somewhat dubious award of having BRUNCH WITH ME!


The winner is . . .

Genevieve Huard of Washington! Congrautlations, Genevieve! I will see you soon!

The five first prize-winners are: Amber Gibson, Caroline Sydney, 
Sarah Silberman, Amanda Braun, and Kayla Layman. They will all receive signed copies of Suite Scarlett.


*Okay. Winchester works for Google, but this is kind of the same thing. He took me on a tour of Google one day and let me ride one of the Google scooters down the hall, which I liked a lot. Then we went down this really serious-looking hall with the fattest cables I have ever seen running all along the ceiling for miles and miles, and I said, “What is that?” And he said, “The Internet.” And I said, “oooOOOOooOOoooooOoooh.” Also, it was Winchester who faked me out on my birthday by telling me that I was going to a special “Google party” and instead took me to dinner with Scott and Justine. He, also, does not care about the truth.

** I think this was Aeschylus, but it might have been that guy who wrote Cats.***

*** Oh wait. He’s still alive.****

**** Anyway, my major point in even mentioning this is that there are always new things we can be worrying about, like birds with an artistic agenda. Also, this seems to speak to my theory that everyone should wear a helmet at all times.*****

***** Which they do in Roller Derby.

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Blogger Chelsea said...

I wanted to live in New York City before I read this, but now it is more than just a want. It is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY. I must attend this little shindig as often as possible. More blood, I say!

You, Maureen, are hilarious.

Congratulations to the contest winners!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

There's a YA book about roller derby-ing that you should totally read. It's called Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. :)


6:40 PM  
Anonymous Winchester Grey said...

I tell Maureen fibs a lot. She hasn't noticed.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Mary Mo said...

Roller Derby = win. I think you should try out, that way, you'll get the cool outfit and then you can leave before the whole derby of death thing comes in to play. :)

9:31 PM  
Blogger Callidora said...

I would practice my skating before trying out :o)

11:46 PM  
Anonymous emily loverly said...

THAT. IS. AMAZING. My next birthday present, definitely!!!!!! And I live in New York! YAY YAY YAY!

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehe more blood hehe

3:39 AM  
Anonymous karen said...

Have you seen the Psych episode about the murderous derby girls? If not, do so immediately.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous AJ said...

How about you write a book about roller derby?

That way you can get in on the action while staying safely behind your computer.

4:00 AM  
Anonymous Kelsey91 said...

From a reader, please read this:

I don't know if you know this - because a lot of people don't - but Obama is planning on RAISING THE TAXES on everything. So basically if he is president, everyone is poor because we are spending so much money on taxes.

Also, he isn't even an American citizen. He hasn't yet shown his birth certificate, proving that he was born in the United States.

Obama's wife publicly announced in her speech that she doesn't love America. But she does NOW because her husband may become president.

And as far as I know, Obama isn't planning on drilling for oil in Alaska, as McCain and Palin are planning to do. We have SO MUCH oil in Alaska, so there's no point in importing from other countries.

I'm really sad that you support Obama, because I really DO like your books. It's not all about "Obama is black." People shouldn't be voting for Obama just because of his skin color. It's his MORALS that count.

McCain has served his country for YEARS in the war (Korean, I think it was). He was TORTURED, and CHOSE TO STAY in his torture cell FOR HIS COUNTRY. Obama can't say that. Obama hasn't done anything for this country. He hasn't even made one law - McCain and Palin have.

I know that you aren't pro-life, but I just wanted to say that inside a pregnant woman's womb is a LIVING human being. Having an abortion is exactly the same as MURDERING a grown person. Life begins at conception, and pregnant women should not choose if their baby should live or die just because it might be a little inconveniant for them to have a baby at this time in their life.

Please reconsider your vote and read about each candidate thoroughly.

4:06 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

Roller Derby=this I have to see. Also, I wanna be that girl with the orange hair shouting for "MORE BLOOD!!!!" [exclamation marks optional]

I am glad you care about the truth. Truth is good. It sets you free and all that. Plus, no one can call you a liar and rhyme it with fire. That must've been the most annoying rhyme when I was six.

4:32 AM  
Blogger LibraryHermit said...

The Roller Derby sounds...interesting. A little scary, to tell you the truth.

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Erin W. said...

Your blog just made my day. I was having a very bad day before I read this, and I am slightly happier than I previously was. But "slightly" is enough to allow me some sleep. So thanks for that.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Check It Out said...

I must go to the Roller Derby now. It is imperative.

6:10 AM  
Blogger barbara said...

I am jealous! That sounded like sooo much fun! Fun has leaft my life, stupid school. :( Now I will look up to see if California has a league!

8:50 AM  
Blogger Crypt said...

So, I just watched some roller derby on youtube. That sort of thing is to be encouraged.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Tara Parker said...

@Kelsey 91: John McCain served, and was a POW, in the Vietnam War.

And Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. His mother was also a US citizen.

Just FYI...

4:46 PM  
Blogger veganwannabe said...

Hmmm. I was always slightly fascinated that one of my favorite poets, Frank O'Hara, died on Fire Island after he was hit by a Dune Buggy which always brings to mind some old C.H.I.P.S rerun where the bad guys ride dune buggies.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Maureen, if you've never watched Psych, you must see this. Right now.

(Episode 307: Talk Derby to Me)

Fake-psychic detectives solving a roller derby thief mystery. There is nothing better.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Ediquish said...

Yes. Follow Karen's and Nina's advice (demands) and watch Psych!! Now. I'll count to three...



12:36 AM  
Anonymous Summer Marie said...

I need help!

I am trying to find a job in the nyc book publishing industry, but no one will even do so much as to call me in for an interview! What should I do? Should I call their phones and leave voice mails of me singing ABBA songs? Should I plan an interpretive dance version of Hamlet and perform it in the lobby? Should I go back home and give up? How do I get their attention?

Also, maybe I should ditch this whole publishing dream and go into roller derby-ing. hmmm.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Zara said...

Ah, roller derby. I never properly understood it before, so thanks, Maureen. Now I understand the lust for blood--and I like the shiny outfits.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

Maureen, I just bought this shirt, and I thought you would want to see it:


Best investment of my life.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Elzabelle said...

I very much want to try out for the roller derby now!
I have always thought girls needed a contact sport -guys have football after all. That is something I could totally get into. = D haha

10:18 AM  
Blogger ROSIE!!!!!!!!! said...

Chelsea, ARE THERE ANY MORE OF THOSE SHIRTS????????????????????? I MUST HAVE ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:10 PM  
Anonymous icanhazwurdz said...

I just wanted to comment to make sure you knew about the "Psych" ep "Talk Derby to Me" but I'm thrilled to see that it has already been mentioned above. Psych=Awesomeness!!!

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Hey Maureen, I don't know if they have this where you are but at our movie theater they have a MAMMA MIA! SING-ALONG VERSION where the lyrics are on the bottom of the screen and everyone sings along! It's amazing!

You've turned me into an obsessed Abba fan, by the way. Thank you for that! Thanks to you, I am happy 100% of the time, because I listen to Abba 100% of the time. Yeay Abba!

10:59 PM  
Blogger Reese said...

About a year ago I went through a roller derby phase where every weekend I'd go to the skating rink and body check people. But the owners were okay with that 'cause I was friends with their daughter. :)


MJ! I'm going to camp for another weekend, because I'm a camp nerd, and I really think we need a list of things to be afraid of at camp!

11:26 PM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

Rosie, I think the seller has one in each size. I bought a medium.

I just realized that the second person who commented on this entry has the SAME NAME AS ME. Hello, fellow Chelsea.

3:27 AM  
Blogger The Not So Closet Geeks said...

this is the first time i've heard of a roller derby. it sounds pretty nifty =)

7:03 AM  
Blogger Calli Black said...

I just finished reading Suite Scarlett. I believe that it is your best yet and can't wait to read Scarlett Fever! :o)

8:24 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Ohhh Roller Derby. I am both terrified and intrigued by it. I have seriously considered doing it. But I think I should sit in on a few matches first. I have an idea that the videos don't capture the half of it. :D

9:24 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Last night was my high school's homecoming dance.

Which means they played the same stupid rap songs over and over.

We requested that they play Dancing Queen. So then it turned into a giant ABBA dance party.

Just thought you'd like to know :]

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question, Maureen. Are you going to get a giant cover of Scarlett Fever like the one you had for Suite Scarlett? I'm watching your old youtube videos (Make another! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease!) and saw it and am wondering if you are going to get another scary big Scarlett poster.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

DANGIT! I wanted to win and meet you and have brunch and talk about how ABBA is amazing. Today I worked out for an hour at the gym (mind you I hate working out) and I listend to ABBA for an hour and time flew by...ah. le sigh.

7:03 AM  
Blogger NightDrive said...

You know who I always forget is in The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy? ALAN RICKMAN. I always forget hes in it until I watch it again.

11:02 AM  
Blogger R. A. Mare said...

Suzy Hotrod is my hero.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Justine know you have a picture of her on your blog?

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Congrats to the winners! Wow roller derby looks Amazing! I would totally become a roller derby- er if I could.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to celebrate i'm gonna read THE GIVER and THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE!!!
power to the reader!
Got any other awesome books to recommend that have been banned?
or do you know where i can find the official list of Banned Books for 2008?

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Lexi said...

Maureen, I must ask.

Why in all your pictures do you have the same expression?

I need to know. xD

1:56 AM  
Blogger ginger snap said...

I'm a skater for the Gotham Girls and am so happy you came to the bout! Thanks for the sweet writeup of your night. My team (Bronx) wasn't skating (championships ahoy - 10/25!) but I'm so happy you enjoyed yourself as much as we did!

And for those of y'all who aren't in NYC, check out the league in your area - there are over 300 in the world right now and the numbers keep growing...visit www.wftda.com, www.derbynewsnetwork.com and www.derbyroster.com to find the crazy girls slammin' in your neighborhood.

Viva derby!

9:35 PM  
Blogger evilsquirrelsista said...

Ahhhhh! I can't believe I get to come to New York and see you! This is so beyond awesome, I mean, I don't even win monopoly little alone a trip to NYC to see my favorite author! I can't wait, I have a countdown on my binder of days until I go...yeah, I'm pretty stoked!
See you soon,

5:13 AM  
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