Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Has Roller Derby Always Been This Way?

I remember watching roller derbies on television when I was young.  My grandmother loved watching the battles that took place during the matches and cheered quite loudly when someone got thrown out of the rink. She loved the "good" girls and booed the "bad" ones who tried to win by any means.  The drama kept her coming back for more.

I know it is still around because Alaska has a couple of roller derby teams.  How do I know?  Well, I taught with one teacher who did it for a couple of years and they usually participate in the Golden Day's parade. 

After I saw an episode of Murdock where his wife skated in a roller derby match, I wondered if it existed at the turn of the century.  Although it was written into the show, roller derby didn't actually premier until August 13, 1935 at the Coliseum in Chicago.  Remember, this is at a time when too many people were unemployed, the dust bowl hit, and people were willing to do almost anything to earn a bit of money. An event promoter, David Seltzer who wanted to find something that was more exciting than walkathons, so he read that over 90 percent of the people had roller skated at least once, and the rest was history.

He premiered the first Transcontinental Derby where two person teams skated around and around the Coliseum roller rink.  Each team had one male and one female member who were to complete 57,000 laps around the rink.  Twenty-two thousand people showed up for this three week event. Throughout the event, there was a map which showed the position of each team so the audience could keep track of things.  The team that came in first place skated 2,700 miles or the same distance as one would travel from New York to Los Angeles.

Since watching people roll around a track for hours at a time was is not the most exciting thing, Seltzer got together with a sports writer to create the rules for the new sport of roller derby and included options for full body contact, the same as we see today.  They set it up for each match or bout that five skaters for each team would be on the track.  One member on each team won the role jammer whose only job was to lap or pass members of the other team while the other four would block and prevent the other team's jammer from getting through.  To become the jammer, the skater had to be the one who ended up in front of the pack.  The team with the most laps wins.  This sport is one where both men and women competed using the same rules, same drama, and same excitement but the only difference was in the pay.

Using these new rules, the sport  grew took to the point that in 1949, roller derby matches could be found across the nation with  had it's stars the public followed. By this time, roller derbies developed the drama using the "good" and "bad" personas to keep the audience following various teams. It was so popular that ABC in New York televised matches three times a week.  In addition, Hollywood released the 1950 movie "The Fireball" staring Micky Rooney and later in the same year the short film "Roller Derby Girl" was nominated for an Academy Award.

Within a few years, the excitement of Roller Derby faded and David Seltzer moved his operation from New York to California. His operation included training camps to recruit new players for the sport.  In 1959, he retired and turned control over to his son who began videotaping matches, he licensed use of to local television stations.   This one move, built up interest in roller derbies around the country so that the roller derby championship in 1965 returned to Madison Square Gardens after an absence of 13 years. The event attracted over 13,000 fans and by 1971, the numbers rose to almost 20,000 fans.  

Unfortunately, by the mid 1970's the roller derby leagues had gone belly up and basically disappeared until 2001 when a group of women resurrected the sport in Austin.  It caught on enough teams formed the Women Flat Track Derby Association and today and there are 463 leagues spread over 33 states. It is not yet at the numbers of attendees as before but it is a growing sport.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Roller Skating Has An Interesting History.

Over the weekend, I attended a wonderful presentation on the clothing women wore when out involved in sports such as riding, ice skating, tennis, fencing, or roller skating from around 1800 to 1960.

The presenter showed us the photo they used as a guide for the clothing displays.  They found real period garments from head to toe.  One photo showed a woman from the 1930's or 1940's who was into roller derby.  Her uniform and skates were donated for one display.  Another card or advertisement showed "inline" skates from the late 19th century and were cool.  This lead me to wondering how long roller skating and derbies have been a part of our society.

It is said that the first skates first appeared in Holland in the early 1700's when someone decided to nail wooden spools to act as wheels to a piece of wood he attached to his shoes so he could "ice skate" in the summer. These dry land skates acquired the name "Skeelers" Then sometime in the 1700's between 1735 and 1760, one Joseph Merlin attended a masquerade party wearing metal wheeled boots to show his invention off.  Unfortunately, he chose to play the violin as he made his entrance, lost control, and ran into a mirror, breaking it.  

The next big development took place in Berlin when 1818, when a German ballet substituted roller skates in for ice skates because it was impossible to create ice on the stage.  The roller skates allowed dancers to flow across the stage. About one year later, in 1819, Frenchman Monsieur Pettibledin became the first one to patent the roller skate.  His roller skate was more like the inline skate of today with between two and four wheels made of copper, wood, or ivory laid in a line but with no way to turn.  Five years later, a Londoner patented a roller skate with single row of 5 wheels all in a line attached to a boot or shoe but again, the skater could not turn.

By 1840, a beer tavern in Germany has it's waitresses wearing roller skates to cover the huge beer hall.  By 1857, public roller rinks in England opened so everyone could enjoy skating.  Then James Leonard Plimpton redid the basic roller skate so it had two wheels under the ball of the foot, two wheels under the heel parallel to each other. In addition, he added rubber springs to make the ride smoother This design change made it possible for skaters to pivot and make turns.  Furthermore, he toured skating rinks, offering lessons to people who wanted to learn but much of the money he made off his invention was spent fighting over 300 copyright infringements.

In the 1880's someone invented pin ball bearing wheels which were used in roller skates to make them lighter and more maneuverable. Over the next few decades, more roller rinks opened such as the Coliseum in Chicago which attracted over 7,000 people on opening night in 1902.  Skating continued to gain in popularity as it branched out into dancing, roller derby, speed skating, polo skating and recreational skating on both indoor and outdoor rinks and eventually just after World War II many drive-in restaurants began having their waitresses also known as "car hops" use skates to deliver food faster to cars.

By the 1960's with the advent of plastic, changes were made to roller skates to make them lighter.  Roller skating continued to grow in popularity with the influx of disco roller rinks in the 1970's and 80's.  Furthermore, Hollywood helped with the growth of this when it released numerous disco roller movies.  Then in 1970, two brothers stumbled across a pair of the original inline type skates and redesigned them using the original idea but making it with modern materials thus giving birth to what we know as inline skates.  

People continued to make changes to inline skates, making them safer while eliminating some of the original issues.  Recently, people have been returning to the four wheel design made popular by Plimpton. Over the years, people have worn the heavy skates attached to the boots or used the lighter ones that you could attach to your tennis shoes so you didn't have to spend tons of money to enjoy the activity.  This is the type my family had because all of us kids could share one pair among us.   Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Blonde or Ruby?

When we talk about chocolate, we automatically think of dark, milk, or white in their various forms.  Just the other day,  I was watching one of these competition baking shows where they are given special ingredients or a theme to create cup cakes, cakes, and other such delights.  On one episode, they told the contestants, they had to create something with either blonde or ruby chocolate.  My eye brows went up because I've only ever heard of blonde brownies, not blonde chocolate, so I had to find out more about both.

Blonde chocolate is where they caramelize white chocolate to give it a color resembling caramel.  This process gives the chocolate a fuller, toastier flavor than the white chocolate and is the basis of several commercial chocolate bars.  The general process consists of taking chips of white chocolate made out of cocoa beans, sugar, and milk solids and roasting them between 200 and 275 degrees F until they turn to a nice milky coffee color between 30 and 60 minutes.   The chips have to be stirred constantly until done or they might burn.  Once it's been melted and tempered, it can be turned back into a solid.  Once it's in solid form, it can be used like any other chocolate. 

Blonde chocolate is the first type of chocolate added since 1930 when white chocolate made it's appearance.  Blonde chocolate was discovered in 2006 and rapidly became an industry secret but it didn't stay that way.  It made it's way out into the world in 2012 as a variety of chocolate sold in the candy aisles.    In addition, Starbucks has added this flavor to it's list of drinks.  Valrhona is the company who discovered blonde chocolate and they are the first to have marketed it to the general public.  

Blonde chocolate is a nice alternative to white chocolate.  Although white chocolate is not seen as a real chocolate, it has been classified as such since 2002.  Chefs like the blonde chocolate because it is less sweet than the white with more depth.  When the chocolate is held at low temperatures, the proteins and lactose brown and create new flavors that had not been there before.

On the other hand, Ruby chocolate is a new variety of chocolate that is a lovely pink and made from the Ruby Cocoa Bean.  It made it's appearance at the Shanghai trade show in 2017.  These are not newly discovered cocoa beans but refer to the beans that are combined to make the pink color and the product is patented.  Ruby Chocolate is being called the fourth chocolate after Milk, Dark, and White.  

It appears that Ruby chocolate is made up of beans from Ecuador,  Brazil, and the Ivory Coast.  They look for a certain mix of compounds, probably pigmented polyphenols, that when processed using a specific technique, it produces a pink chocolate.  The patent states that the process decreases fermentation to 3 days or less then treating it with an acid and then using a petroleum ether to take out fatty acids thus keeping the color.  According to one article I read, cocoa beans grow in a purple pod and when first picked they have a purple tint.  By shortening the fermentation period, the beans retain some of their color.

The Ruby chocolate is described as being quite sweet like a white chocolate with a raspberry or fruity flavor associated with it.  Some people have described the flavor as tangy.  There is a catch with Ruby chocolate in that the United States government does not recognize it as chocolate because it does not have the correct percentages of the correct ingredients.  The amount of unsweetened chocolate puts it between white chocolate and milk chocolate so it's neither.  

So now you know more about Blonde and Ruby chocolates.  I know when I watched the cooking show, I had heard of either.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear, have a great day.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

All My Bags Are Packed.

Airport, Transport, Woman, Girl, Tourist

I'm traveling today out to where I work.  I got permission to travel in so I'm set and then I'll undergo a 14 day quarantine and I'll be done before I have to report for the first day of inservice.  I'll be back to normal on Friday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Where In The World Are These Crazy Ice Cream Flavors?

Ice Cream, Cone, Strawberry Ice Cream I know my local artisan ice cream place has had some unusual flavors such as asparagus - I wasn't willing to try that - but I've seen nothing quite as unusual as some I've seen in places like Japan.

Japan is noted for some of it's way out there flavors.  The Ice Cream City in Namco Namja Town in Tokyo. Namco Namja Town is part of an indoor amusement park and has quite a few odd flavors of ice cream.  It is noted for its 50 varieties of ice cream that include Raw Horse Flesh flavored ice cream.  It also has other flavors such as Eel, Wasabi, Cow Tongue, Octopus, Squid, Crab, and Yakisoba.  They even have a Pearl ice cream with pearls embedded in the mixture and people hope to find one every time they buy a cone.

If you head over to Maine, you can get a couple of scoops of Lobster ice cream.  Then there is a company in New York City that is noted for being creative with ice cream flavors including Fois Gras which is a goose liver pate.  On the other hand, a different place in New York offers a Fig and Brown Turkey flavor to tease taste buds.  Like something hot?  A shop in Delaware offers two different ice creams with hot peppers in them.  Once mixture uses Ghost peppers which are classified as the hottest pepper in the world or about 400 times hotter than tabasco.

On the other hand, if you head over to England, you can get yourself some mushy peas and fish which is actually one scoop of minty mushy peas and one scoop of fish flavored ice cream topped with fried cod and served with French fries.  You could try jelly fish ice cream which is made with jelly fish proteins and glows as you lick it but it goes for over $200 a scoop.  Head back to Japan for a Mamushi snake ice cream which is made out of one of the most poisonous snakes in Japan.  If you pop back to San Francisco, you can find an ice cream with mint and meringue of sea urchins mixed with espelette peppers.

There is an ice cream place in Venezuela who makes something like 900 different flavors such as sardines in brandy, beef, spaghetti and cheese, cheeseburger and a flavor based on a local dish with beef, rice, plantain, cheese, and black beans.  Talking about traditional dishes, Scotland has a place that offers a Haggis ice cream. In Sweden, you can find a black ice cream that is salty and licorice flavor.  If you are in the Philippines you can get a Crocodile egg ice cream made with crocodile eggs. The owner of the shops says these eggs have less cholesterol and is a healthier choice.

Now for flavors that are not quite as weird but odd enough.  In New Orleans, you can find a Creamery that offers a Cajun Tomato flavor which actually sounds more like a salad dish than an ice cream.  In New York City, you can find a Cheetos flavor that is a bright orange, just like the original food.  Then there is the Burbon and Cornflake flavor from a place in San Francisco.  This is classified as a breakfast dish since it's got cornflakes in it.   On the other hand, check out the Whiskey and Prune ice cream that can be found in Australia.  The prunes have been soaked in whiskey before being added to the ice cream base.

You could enjoy a Chocolate Banana ice cream spiced with curry in Chicago or try a scoop of the Lemongrass with Salted Black Licorice and Olive ice cream.  All unique flavors, some are appealing while others are quite out there.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.