Thursday, May 29, 2008

Killing Time

I’ve managed to limp through a little better than half of the wasteland between the Ford Best in Texas Shootout and the Git-R-Done Invitational the weekend of June 6, but it has been painful. Last night, Barn Cat tried to persuade me to watch the bull riding portion of the Houston Rodeo, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve tried watching the PRCA and going to local rodeos and both efforts have been dismal failures. Though I have some frustrations with the sport, the PBR just has that je ne sais quoi that keeps me coming back for more.

Now, I have had mild flirtations with television shows before—several years ago, I watched 23 hours of the “24 Hours of ‘JAG’ Marathon” over Memorial Day weekend, and the only reason I didn’t see the final hour was because I had to go pick Barn Cat up at the airport. (To be truthful, several episodes that ran in the middle of the night weren’t my favorites, so I did manage to get some sleep, though sometimes only for a couple of hours at a stretch.) This past weekend, I got sucked into watching an all-Logan marathon of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” but I don’t think that’s going to make a true believer out of me. Chris Noth is interesting as Logan, but he just doesn’t have that “Sex and the City” vibe in “Criminal Intent,” and if there’s one thing I’m in desperate need of at the moment, it’s idiotic fantasy. That generally does not include hatchet murders and sex crimes.

But none of it was a decent substitute for the PBR. As night fell, and Chris Noth appeared on the tube for the 14th time in 14 hours, my spirits began to flag. Of course, misery loves company, so I have since conducted an in-depth survey (I invested nearly a half hour in it) of other fans and concluded that some aren’t faring much better than I am. Practically all my correspondents are moping and sighing and wishing they could Tivo past this delay and on to some live PBR action.

And here’s the kicker: After a feast of bull riding practically every weekend from the end of December 2007 through the first weekend in May, it is going to be off-and-on famine from here till the finals. After Orlando, it will be another three-week stretch before the Dallas event, and then another FOUR FULL WEEKS before the event in Tulsa July 18-20. Then we’ll have three weekends of bullriding in a row, and then another FOUR FULL WEEKS before the Jack Daniels Invitational in Nashville. Then we’ll skip yet another week, and finish with a sprint from the middle of September through Vegas in early November.

All I’ve got to say is, there may be a lot of Jack Daniels consumed in the domiciles of many fans between now and the second week of September, when we finally get this train back on track. I can’t recall that last year I missed the PBR so much during breaks, but my sad-sack state this year has led me to consider the grim possibility that I might be addicted to watching bull riding. No, wait, I admit it—I KNOW I’m addicted. The question is, what am I going to do about it?

The obvious action would be to quit, cold turkey, but I’m not quite ready for that. I had a fancy (thank God, it passed quickly) of trundling down to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous or maybe Narcotics Anonymous, but then I couldn’t quite figure out how I was going to explain myself to those folks, all of whom are wrestling with much more serious demons than this. I guess I could paraphrase Mr. Brooks’ announcement in the eponymous film: “Hello, I’m the Stockyard Queen, and I’m an addict.” In his case, he conveniently left out the fact that he was addicted to killing people—maybe I could gloss over the fact that I’m hooked on watching bulls jump eight feet off the ground and body slam cowboys to the arena floor.

No, the fact of the matter is, I’m just going to suffer, mumbling Amy Winehouse’s line under my breath: “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, ‘No, no, no.’” Obviously it would be impossible for riders or bulls to compete for 33 straight weekends--both crews need time to heal up and recharge--but I am offering up a plea to the Powers That Be at PBR Central: How about next year, you split the schedule into three or four segments, with regular three- or four-week breaks between each segment, so we fans can pace ourselves without having to resort to vats of hard liquor or support groups or psychiatry to get through the fallow times? This schedule is making me feel real sympathy for my poor cousin, whom my parents railroaded into teaching me how to drive a car with a clutch when I was 16. It’s a wonder he survived with his spine intact. Now it’s my turn to get nauseous, and believe me, I’m not alone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Channeling Ruby

This was one dreary weekend around the Stockyard. Of course, the most immediate cause of our sorry state was the fact that we will have to endure THREE FULL WEEKS with no new PBR action, which is enough to make any fan mope. On top of that, it has rained every day for nearly a week, and now there is flooding up on the Gallatin River north of town, so we’ve pretty much been stuck inside to enjoy the gloom. In November, we would expect this, and would cheerfully cozy up to our natural gas fireplace, gleefully sending that fossil fuel straight up the chimney and watching NCIS reruns till our eyes were gritty, but it’s damned near June, just two weeks from the official start of summer, and we haven’t even gotten our sweet peas planted yet! Our local meteorologist, whom Barn Cat has lovingly christened “ChromeDome” in honor of his shaven pate, has assured us that this has been the third coldest May on record in Montana. That just makes us feel worse.

But the lack of PBR action has given me time to think about some issues that I’ve been promising myself I’d take off the backburner one day. In the past week, I’ve been mulling over AZPonyDriver’s comments on the TWoP forum about the lackluster (and sometimes just dumb) commentary we’ve been enduring from the Versus broadcasting booth, and I am compelled to say I agree with her. When he’s up there, Justin McKee at least usually comes up with some hillbilly descriptions that are mildly amusing, but lately he’s been working the floor, and neither Justin McBride nor J.W. Hart is keeping me very entertained. AZPonyDriver’s remark that Don Gay was more colorful has reminded me that Gay and my mother use some of the same expressions, which has led me to imagining what it might be like if my mom, Ruby, got hired to work in the booth. You might hear something like this:

When a rookie makes his first appearance on the Built Ford Tough Series: “That boy has been riding bulls since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.”

She might even opine that some of the riders are still about that size. Those cowboys will remain nameless, for the sake of saving our own skins, because that small as they are, I’m betting they might take a swing at me to defend their honor, even if I am a girl.

When a bull throws a rider out the back door: “That bull left him like a dirty shirt!”

I’ve heard both my mom and Don Gay say this. Usually when she does, she’s talking about a truck driver who left her in the dust on the interstate. (She considers the drivers for one particular trucking line, also to remain unidentified here, agents of the devil himself because of their unsportsmanlike conduct on the road.) It also brings to mind poor Travis Briscoe, who on top of his sad streak of buck-offs got pitched off Hot Pistol in San Antonio and arose up with his shirt ripped to shreds. I hope he keeps a change of clothes in the locker room, because I’m pretty sure there ain’t no tailor backstage at the PBR. They need every spare inch back there for portable medical equipment.

When a bull is acting up in the chute: “That chute’s so small, you can’t cuss a cat in it without getting hair in your mouth.”

Typically, she’s talking about a room or a car when she says this, but Ruby is nothing if not adaptive—she’d change to suit the situation in the blink of an eye.

When a rider manages to stick for eight seconds, and it ain’t pretty: “There’s more ways to kill a cat than choking it to death on butter.”

My mom has at least a half dozen expressions about cats, none of which I've ever heard anybody else use and almost all derogatory, which is interesting because she really prefers cats to dogs. This is yet another difference between us. Oddly enough, I’ve never in my life heard her say anything so common as, “I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” I was grown and gone before anybody ever said that in my presence.

When there’s a particularly nasty wreck: “That would gag a maggot.”

Actually, this is my dad’s expression, which my mom has expropriated, because after being married nearly 60 years, you should at least get to steal your partner’s thunder, right? Barn Cat probably has something to say about that, but for the moment, I have the floor.

When nothing (the judging, maybe?) is making sense: “If the Lord don’t know where we are, we’re lost.”

Better, don’t you think, than, “Beyond me and over my head”?

When a bull rider acts up: “That boy is as wild as a March hare.”

I’m not sure what this alludes to, but I’m convinced a March hare must be pretty wild.

When a bull rider really acts up: “If he were my kid, I’d kill him and tell the Lord he died.”

When Mom said this to us kids, we knew we were in deep trouble and no mistake. She was, and is, absolutely determined that nobody will ever think her children were born in a barn.

Despite her unmistakable chops, Ruby probably wouldn’t last long in the booth, mostly because she’d be threatening to wash mouths out with soap about every other breath. This is of course unsupported speculation, but I bet what we hear live is considerably cleaner than what’s said in there the rest of the time. So the sport will have to limp along without my mom’s contribution, which is a damned shame. Both my parents moved as young adults from the boondocks to the big city, and between them, they have created a life out of gumption, hard work, and the recognition that you’re never too old to learn something new. My respect for what they have accomplished makes my mom’s hard-won wisdom very precious to me, since it reminds me that her upbringing created the bedrock of her character. Sometimes we disagree, but I will always be proud to be my parents’ daughter. Several of those bull riders could learn a thing or two from Ruby, and not just how to cuss a cat in a small room. Though as she herself would proclaim, she wouldn’t say “shit” if she stepped in it.

My 15 Minutes?

Folks, I wanted to let you know that a guest post I submitted will appear at next month. That website is the brainchild of the inimitable Mr. John Hewitt, and if you have any interest in being a professional writer, I strongly encourage you to check it out.

John is taking the month of June off to work on his own writing, and consequently has been soliciting guest submissions for his blog. Since I love the sound of my own voice, I sent him a post titled "
So Much in Common: The Truth about Editing and Bull Riding," which he has graciously accepted. It will appear on his site on June 18. I will post a reminder just before that date, so you can see my observations for yourselves. But rest assured that I'm not so busy trying to muscle in on other people's sites that I've forgotten my friends--I'll have a new post up here shortly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sort-of Live Blogging the Ford Best in Texas Shootout

Last night, Montana Barn Cat and I decided to set the laptop up and make notes while we watched the Ford Best in Texas Shootout in San Antonio. The result is what you see here. We can't truthfully call it "live blogging" because we didn't post as we watched, and our devoted readers should probably thank their lucky stars for that. There are not many folks who can stand to be in the same room with me while I'm watching the PBR.

It was fascinating, though, to watch a one-day event with that kind of attention. My conclusions: the bulls are still better than the boys, hands down; the judging is still just about incomprehensible, as Michael Gaffney demonstrated with his confession that he doesn't understand the "voodoo" the judges do to decide who else will get to ride when there aren't 15 qualified rides for the short-go; and it's time to inaugurate
The Stockyard Queen's Hoof in Mouth Award, to be given out whenever warranted to the person or persons who make the biggest asses of themselves on the air. I bet you already know who gets the prize this week.

With those disclaimers, here is the (barely) edited transcript. Be forewarned: You may learn way more about us than you really want to know.

SQ at 6:00 We're in San Antonio! I've heard it's a neat town, and that it's the ugliest town in Texas. Anybody out there have an opinion based on experience?
SQ @ 6:05 The best of the three contenders below Marchi is riding about 62 percent of his bulls. Guilherme is riding 80 percent. And I notice that Gaffney isn't talking about Travis Briscoe being able to make a run for the title anymore.
SQ @ 6:08 Vampire is pretty! Don't you just want to scratch his head? No?
SQ @ 6:10 Barn Cat found the PBR in HD! Awesome! Justin McKee says the draft is one of the most exciting things the PBR "has came along with." They better take that cap and gown away from him. I recall that Ty Murray declined to work behind the chutes, saying he didn't want to be a "chute bitch." Does that make McKee one?
SQ @ 6:13 Bad Yeller pitches Brian Herman off into the dirt. Justin Farley hits the ground off Savage Shaker. Robson Palermo is back! Yay!
BC @ 6:15 Don't jack with Robson!
SQ @ 6:18 "A tale of two Travises" indeed! 1 in 13! And he's still 6th in the world. And he rides Grey Dog for the first qualified ride. 89.25??? Can you be serious?
Robson finally gets out of the chute and gets faceplanted.
SQ @ 6:21 Hustler was amazing.
I don't think I have ever been sicker of any commercial than John Byrne and Nancy Walters dancing in Las Vegas. I bet I have seen that ad 200 times since 2000. Mr. Byrne, grabbing your crotch is not sexy. And where did you find those outfits, some 70s vintage joint on the Strip?
Now I'm seeing an ad where a woman in a coffee house moves her laptop from one table to another and loses her wifi signal. For half a horrified second, I thought the book they handed to her through the bars was the Book of Mormon.
SQ @ 6:25 Tater Porter is taking the guys wake boarding in Orlando.
Silver Wings bucks Clayton Williams off and gets a huge bull score.
Rocky McDonald gets a qualified ride but gets stepped on. Oh, crap! He's cradling his right arm. Isn't that the hand he lost the thumb off last year?
McKinnon Wimberly gets bucked off.
Now my favorite PBR commercial--Adriano on Sticks and Stones, "one of the meanest bulls in the go-round."
SQ @ 6:33 Mike Lee on Smiley. He hauls off and slaps the bull on the head while they're still in the chute. That's no way to make friends. Smiley has a horrible trip but he still gives Frank Newsome a shot. "There's one thing about Smiley--he's mean," says Justin McBride.
Josh Koschel gets bucked off.
SQ @ 6:36 Looks like the guys are serious about preventing another Chris Shivers-type accident. Smoking Liz is trying to climb over the railings but the guys pull Dustin Hall clear out of the chute.
An ad I've never seen before: "A Gerber man lives by one rule--his own." Or, behaving like a big macho dickhead.
SQ @ 6:40 Could we please not revisit Justin McBride's ride last year on Camo at the finals? Talk about a ride scored way too high!
Nick Landerneau rides The Rookie.
SQ @ 6:44 Ben Jones and Tar Baby. Damn, that bull spins fast! No dancing for Ben, unless you count his stumbling around after he gets bucked off.
Kody Lohstroh on Who's There--he falls off and now he's praying! Maybe he's praying he won't lose his bull rope next time.
Ednei Caminhas and Full Throttle. Decent looking ride. And now he's pointing to heaven. Please, guys, cut it out. 89 points.
SQ @ 6:48 Dan Hendricks and Skat Jacket. I guess changing diapers doesn't prepare you to ride in the PBR.
Sorry, I had to split for long enough to fire up the grill. No, we haven't eaten yet. We don't eat on the clock here, especially on PBR nights.
SQ @ 6:52 What in hell is Leah Garcia wearing? She looks like she clubbed some small animal outside the arena and threw the skin on her back about three seconds ago. Actually, I think I've asked that same question about the same outfit at least twice before. At least Travis isn't praising God during the interview.
Kolt Donaldson on Full Circle. Off he goes.
Michael Gaffney: "The voodoo that they do at the office [to determine who rides in the short-go if they don't have 15 qualified rides] is beyond me and over my head."
SQ @ 6:56 Guilherme! What a ride! They can't complain he wasn't in control that whole ride. 87.5. He was robbed.
Now Justin McKee is weighing in on the fact that Marchi is consistently scored too low. Of course, he does so by suggesting that they should give him another quarter point because "he takes away from the bulls." Justin McBride says, "The judges got it right for once." Well, since he has sometimes benefited from the judges favoring him, I'm not surprised at that opinion.
Sean Willingham is 83.25 on Spotted Frog.
Dustin Elliott on Hambone--"Hambone looks like the real deal." Did to me, too. I'm going to watch that bull.
Handing off to Barn Cat @ 7:00 Ross Coleman on Political Weapon. Well, he's goin' straight. Ow, ow, ow. Mixed up rope situation--reride for sure. Yup.
BC @ 7:06 I love that bull's voice. Black Mamba tries to buck off Wiley but can't quite do it.
SQ back, having put the ribs on the grill, @ 7:10. Zack Brown goes 6.9 seconds on Fear Factor.
Ned Cross and Cool Whip. This bull needs to head on down to Burger King. What a bore. 88.75 points?????? How can this be?
Matt Bohon goes down hard off Leprechaun.
Cord McCoy overcorrects on Derringer and comes down.
Barn Cat isn't holding up his end of the blogging. Now he's claiming he never said he'd blog, he'd just "set it up." He'd climb a tree to tell a lie. He's also drunk all the wine, which makes two.
Now Barn Cat is complaining because I have glitter in my hair. That's what happens when you try on the $1 Uncle Sam hat at Target.
SQ @ 7:18 Colby Yates bucks off Red Carpet--thrown back into the chutes.
Adriano goes 1.9 seconds on Blizzard! That bull is one of my favorites. Shorty Gorham says Blizzard is overlooked because he doesn't have horns.
Foolish Pride--probably the best bull we've seen so far. What great jumps! Pistol Robinson doesn't have a chance.
Mike White comes off Rock Star toot sweet. That was one fast corner the bull turned.
SQ @ 7:22 Bryan Richardson goes flying off Nasty Mike. Gaffney has gotten skunked--none of his picks have ridden. He's shut out for the first time.
BC @ 7:23 They should call cage fighting "Cat Fighting."
SQ @ 7:23 I don't care if that guy is a Marine, cage fighting is stupid.
SQ @ 7:25 Cooper Tires Don't Give Up a Thing athlete profile. Mike Lee is slurring his words so badly I can hardly understand him. He really needs to quit. "I'm mature now, I'm a different person." I'd have to agree with that, for completely different reasons.
Ross Coleman gets tossed off El Gato and out of the short-go.
J.B. Mauney has a good trip on Wild Life. Probably is a 90 point ride.
SQ @ 7:30 After that awful wreck in Des Moines, Austin is back on Harley. Not much bull there but he gets the job done. 86.5.
They are FINALLY reporting on Kasey Hayes' injury. Speak, Leah! C5, C6, and C7 fused! Yikes! I'm betting he won't be back, period. And Rocky McDonald got stepped on in the same place as before, but he's coming back for the short-go.
SQ @ 7:35 Brian Canter gets pitched off Strip Me in short order.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing Brendon Clark getting bucked off Buckwheat. Or any other bull. I really don't like Brendon Clark, haven't since I saw how he treated Anna on "Beyond the Bull." I don't think all that pissy behavior was "taken out of context," as politicians say when they're trying to explain that they really didn't say what they so plainly did say.
Valdiron deOliveira gets an excellent ride on Mastermind.
BC: I like that bull's tail!
SQ @ 7:40 Kurt Hummer remarks that voodoo will be called upon. Maybe they can just call in the point fairy. Why pay two salaries?
L.J. Jenkins has a short trip on Vampire.
Okay, so now they are explaining that it's "computer drawn" rather than straight-up pin-the-tail-on-the-bull voodoo. Three will be picked since there were only 12 qualified rides.

On to the bull draft and the short-go! It's the first one-day event that will have the bull draft. Justin McKee is officiating. The picks are:
JB and Hot Stuff
Travis and Hot Pistol
Ednei and Lil' Slim
Ned Cross and Camo
Wiley Peterson and Red Chester--Wiley sounds drunk
Guilherme and Buckeye
Nick L and Zorro. For secret reasons, we like that bull a lot.
Mike Lee and Big Rig.
Austin and Ricky Bobby.
Valderon and Lightning McQueen. Cody Lambert is going to translate. Valderon just points to the list and Justin McKee assures Cody that he can understand that much Portuguese.
Rocky McDonald and Cowboy. McKee: How you feeling? McDonald: Good. Stockyard Queen: What is this, a Gary Cooper impersonation contest?
Sean Willingham and Bonafide.

That's it for the qualified riders. The three random draws are:
Jared Farley and Black Gold.
Dustin Hall and King Solomon.
Bryan Richardson and Jacob's Pet, the top Classic bull in the land. "Cody Lambert says that's the best bull in the pen," Mr. Richardson opines.

7:55 A short segment on the protective vest. I hereby nominate Dr. Tandy Freedman as the bravest guy at the PBR. It takes real guts to sit up there every week and hope for the best and expect, and be prepared to handle, the worst. Wiley Peterson says, "Cody Lambert changed the sport pretty good" when he brought the protective vest into the PBR. Yeah, wasn't he riding at the same time as Lane Frost? Wiki says he was, but we have to take Wiki with a grain of salt. And that vest has pockets for your snoose! What else could you ask for?

Due to a series of domestic emergencies, mostly having to do with the fact that we can't cook and watch the PBR and blog at the same time, the times posted from here on out are suspect. Our apologies, but we have to think about what we'll be doing after this event is over. Like, finally, eating. Barn Cat has been pressed into service to make salad. That's how seriously I am taking this.

SQ @ 8:05 The championship round is starting! Bryan Richardson, off Jacob's Pet in short order. JP remains unridden.
Dustin Hall: King Solomon gets rid of him and takes a run at the bullfighter. Yee-haw!
Why do they keep saying, "There's not a bad bull in the pen." Who are they trying to convince?
Jared Farley on Black Gold--just barely makes the whistle. Guess he's glad the voodoo is working.
Sean Willingham: Bonafide is a big, fat pig. Where's the Burger King truck? That bull looked like he was asleep.
Rocky is off Cowboy pretty quick. Please, Gaffney, don't say "Jump for jump."
Valderon aboard Lightning McQueen. Another sleeper. As much as I love Valderon, that was very dull.
And here it comes, from the lips of Justin McBride, the comment that Valderon is also a contender to beat Guilherme because "He doesn't understand what anybody is saying anyway." DING DING DING DING! Wheel out
The Stockyard Queen's Hoof in Mouth Award. Add this trophy to your case, Justin! You need to take some of that cash you've won and go back to college. It's not just to get you a job--it's to help you become a citizen of the world, which you clearly are not.
Austin Meier: Windmilled off Ricky Bobby. A close call--not pretty. If I were Austin, I might be thinking about a different career.
Mike Lee out the back door on Big Rig. McBride: "You see him spin like he's supposed to." So I guess we're admitting that spinners always outscore jumpers. I'd just like somebody to explain WHY.
Nick L and Zorro. A very short trip. And that's why we love that bull. That and our secret reason.
Report on the Bull Teams.
Guilherme climbs into the chute! Buckeye is unridden and he's pretty. What a correction! "This is destiny," says Hummer. That was amazing, AND we see it week after week. And the crowd is booing because the score is 87.25. "The bull covered a lot of ground," says Gaffney, and that's why the judges scored him low. ********. And the rest of you who are making excuses for them, you're ******** too. "The score without a doubt is right." Uh-huh.
And what is the deal with Hummer's haircut, anyway? It's not exactly regulation Marine. He looks like he stuck his head in a lard bucket and then ran his fingers through his hair.
Wiley Peterson gets bucked off. Close don't count.
Ned Cross and Camo. One jump--that's that. It is nice that Justin McBride would like to buy him and retire him to his ranch. I guess nobody is all bad, though I wouldn't let my little girl feed an ex-PBR bull. How old is that kid now, 3? 4 tops.
Ednei and Lil' Slim. Reride? "A bull that puts his tail up in the air ain't bucking that hard," says Mr. McBride. Another lesson in bull physiology, or psychology, or something. Ednei gets a reride on Medicine Man.
Travis and Hot Pistol. He's in serious trouble at 4 seconds. I really thought he was about to get head butted. Sorry about your shirt, Travis.
J.B. is done. The bull isn't.
BC: That bull looks like a pig.
SQ: You're right. But he got the job done.
Ednei on Medicine Man. And off he goes, with the added bonus of a horn in the face.
Valderon wins! And I don't know if you noticed, but when he got spun so close to the chute, he pulled his ride back in. He totally knows where he is in space as well as on the top of the bull.

So that's the little window into our world this weekend. Hope you enjoyed at least part of it. The ribs were a little spicy, but the salad was delicious.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Come Zonk with Me, Let’s Zonk, Let’s Zonk Away

I was away the weekend of the Des Moines Classic, called to the steamy and stormy state of Missouri to the bedside of an ailing relative, who fortunately has improved greatly in the past week. So I missed all the coverage, being preoccupied with cooking and cleaning and toting folks to the hospital in my rented roller skate, as well as completely cut off from the higher numbers on the local cable network. I flew back at the crack of dawn on Friday, narrowly avoiding being blown completely away by multiple tornadoes that came roaring up I-44 from Oklahoma. I lived in the South and Midwest from the day I was born until I escaped to Wyoming in 1991, and I still have good friends and relatives out there, but as far as I’m concerned, the Midwest has the worst weather in the world. Hot and humid in the summer, cold and damp in the winter, with the added excitement of tornadoes that charge through the neighborhoods, mostly in the middle of the night. You folks are better men than I am—I’ll never live there again, unless Barn Cat gets a job offer that includes a chauffeured limousine and an air-conditioned bubble to get me from the house to the car. That might reconcile me to breathing through a wet washcloth for the foreseeable future. Then again, probably not.

By the time I landed back in God's Country, I was in serious PBR deprivation, so as soon as I could fire up the computer, I e-mailed the inimitable AZPonyDriver for an update, which she delivered with absolutely hilarious aplomb. I then checked my DVR and was overjoyed to see I’d managed to record the Saturday night session in Des Moines. I watched it while swilling down massive amounts of coffee, made the right way, black and strong.

But I was pretty disheartened later when I clicked on the PBR website and was greeted by a continuous loop of three horrific wrecks—in Chicago, Chris Shivers getting his face smashed into the chute, and in Des Moines, Austin Meier being knocked out cold and poor Kasey Hayes falling right on his head and breaking his neck. Even though I'd seen the latter already, it was absolutely gut-churning to see it played over and over. It’s incredible that he managed to walk out of the arena on his own power. I always root for the bulls, but nobody wants to see a competitor come within a hair of being wheelchair-bound for the next 40 years.

Still, it appears to have been a good weekend. By dent of having stuck to three bulls while everybody else fell off, our dear friend Guilherme won the event and has pulled farther ahead in the overall standings. One suggestion, though—Page 499 deserves a better name. Surely you boys aren’t running out of imagination yet. And the folks over on the TWOP forum board have a lot to say about the points fairy, who appears to be miraculously changing scores after they’ve already been posted. I plan to look into this phenomenon when I get the chance.

That said, we have weathered a weekend without the PBR and are looking forward to San Antonio, when we plan to park ourselves in the club chair and torment the neighborhood with our shrieks and profanities. Now, that’s the good life and no mistake. In the meantime, I have decided to give all the kind folks who have been moseying over here a place to express themselves more immediately on this site, so I am adding a Zonkboard where you can comment to your heart’s content. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you to be polite and respectful of others’ opinions. Enjoy!