Friday, February 27, 2009

The Final Night: Day Two, Part II

It is with some sadness that the Stockyard Queen presents the final installment of Shannon's inimitable report on the Anaheim event. I appreciate her thanks, but truthfully, the thanks go to her. There's nothing like hearing from the folks who are down on the ground, and I am grateful that she was willing to go to the trouble for us. Enjoy, folks! And if others of you do manage to get to PBR events, by all means, let me know if you'd like to guest blog about it. I'm all ears.

The Final Night: Day Two, Part II

Once back inside the event, we said hello to my brother and then went to our seats, which are in the same section as they were before. Behind the chutes, we see Judd Leffew and, wow! Luke Perry! *dreamy sigh* I had the pleasure of meeting him quite a few years ago when my husband worked in the movie industry. He is a great guy—very personable—and all of the sudden, I find myself splitting my attention between the chute seats and the riders. My brother, who, as you may remember, doesn’t really follow the PBR anymore, was ushered with a few other agents, up to watch from the chutes themselves. In the grand tradition of younger brothers teasing older sisters, he just had to ring me up and say, “Did you see where they brought me?” *sigh* “Yes, Sean, I saw you.” “Yeah, I’m watching Ryan in the chutes right now.” “Uh-huh.” “Hey, I can see you! Wave!” *grrr….* I’m not even going to discuss the irony of him being up there. . . . Later, he rang again: “What’s up?” “You know—watching from up here really isn’t that good. You can’t see anything.” “Right.” (Speak for yourself, buddy—I’d have given up watching a few rides just to be able to watch the action behind the chutes—but then, good-looking cowboys were never his thing, anyway).

This time, the bulls were even more exciting, as you all probably saw on tv. I actually got hit with quite a bit of dirt and was able to collect some of J.B. and Skeeter’s 90 point confetti. Brendon’s, for some reason, went in the other direction. Anyway, you all saw the rides, but I thought I’d report on one bull moment. They showed Frank getting clocked, of course, and there were a few who had to do a victory lap, and one that thought a barrel needed to die, but you only saw part of McKennon’s bull’s antics. After he bucked off (distraught, I tell you! ;), the whole song and dance of getting the bull back behind the chutes went on for quite a while. He would turn towards the chute and take a step, then turn back. Then again, and again, and again. Finally, Julio Moreno was able to lasso him. When Julio headed straight back behind the chutes, this bull decided that no mere mortal and his fancy horse were any match for him! He yanked back on the rope, and suddenly, it went slack and came back out from behind the chutes—without Julio attached to it (did you hear the gasp?). After a minute or two more of playing, the bull decided he’d had enough. He walked through the gate, but then decided he wanted one more moment in the spotlight—either that, or he was ticked off that the gateman was closing the gate so quickly. He started to buck when it was halfway closed, kicking the crap out of it. That’s when about five guys slammed it shut and held it there while he continued his routine. I only wish I could have seen behind the gates to see how they got him to stop. That was fun.

After we’d watched some great rides, the draft (where everyone one gasped in awe, then shouted and applauded when Skeeter chose All In), and listening to the two people around me try to explain the sport to their buddies who’d never watched before (that can be fun), and to the announcer talk incessantly about the cut, just on the off-chance the riders forgot (no pressure guys!), the show ended. I was torn between trying to holler out to Luke and going down right away so I didn’t miss any autographs. I decided to go for the autographs, since security probably would have frowned on me shouting “Luke! Luke!” over the railing. We chatted with a few more riders and waited forever for J.B. to finally decide to come out. Most people had left, figuring he wasn’t going to, but some of us waited (patiently!). When he walked out with Kasey, the little girl with the family next to us got giddy with excitement. She couldn’t have been more than four and obviously, her parents are big fans because she knew who she was waiting for! Kasey and J.B.! She was bouncing away until Kasey got there. He gave her and her older sister a smile and a hello, then obliged when mom asked for a picture with all three ladies (dad got to take the picture). We all got a laugh when the little one had to be convinced to turn towards the camera and stop staring at the cowboy (a girl after my own heart!) and then sweetly called “Bye!” with a wave after he left. Kasey turned and waved back. But, that wasn’t the end. Not for them and certainly not for her! J.B. was still a ways behind. She leaned back over the railing and shouted “J.B., come on! J.B.!!”. God love her, she was adorable. And when he got there, it was the same exact routine as with Kasey (“Look at the camera, sweetheart!”) and he was just as good with her.

Finally, it was time to go. We once again got lost (proof that I wouldn’t last one leg on The Amazing Race!) and when we made it back to the hotel, as we turned into the parking lot, I’ll give you three guesses who we saw waiting for us to pass. Brian Canter. As we laughed at running into him once again, I pulled up the last few yards to the front doors. The last rider we would see in person this year was standing there: Kasey. More laughter from us because how fitting was it that we ran into them all weekend, then one last time before our night ended?

As I drove off, I thought about an older couple that we’d met in the lobby. They’ve attended several events a year since the beginning of the PBR 16 years ago and have become friendly with many staff/crew members and riders (I had no reason to doubt them after the warm welcome they got from a staff member who walked by and one Renato Nunes). We told them that it must seem odd for the riders to see us there all day, both days. They smiled and said, “You keep coming back every year and sitting on that couch. They will appreciate it because they know that the fans are what brought the PBR this far, they will remember you [as they were certain Guilherme remembered me from the year before—they said he was very sharp] and, they will even eventually start looking for you.” You can bet from now on, I’ll be at that couch whenever I can get to Anaheim, because as odd as it may be, I have a great time when I’m there.

Thank you, Stockyard Queen, for letting me tell my story. It was nice to be able to share it with people who would get it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to the Couch: Day 2, Part I

The Stockyard Queen proudly introduces Shannon's penultimate installment about the Anaheim PBR event. Just thinking about those ladies staking out the hotel lobby makes me smile.

Back to the Couch: Day 2, Part I

When I last left off, I was ready to head out to day two of cowboy oogli . . . erm, I mean, watching, after only four hours of sleep. I left at 8:30 a.m., after a habitual, and on this day necessary, stop at Starbucks, for what I thought was supposed to be a breakfast date with my brother. At 9:30 a.m., I was standing in the hotel lobby, calling him, wondering why he hadn’t called me yet. It seems that there was a miscommunication and he just wanted to meet me “sometime” before he had to be at the event at 3:30 p.m. (don’t ask). Of course, I still would have been there early, but would have probably opted for at least one more hour of sleep. So, I called Laura to tell her I was there and within minutes, she was downstairs. We both dragged ourselves, exhausted and hungry, to the restaurant where, over my second cup of coffee and her protein-filled plate, we observed Flint and his family, Randy Bernard, L.J., and Clayton enjoying their breakfasts, neither of us breaking one of our cardinal rules: Never bother anyone during a meal. As we were leaving, it was a pleasure to look outside and see Flint (whose family was just finishing eating as we were ordering) sitting in a chair at poolside watching his girls enjoy the swimming pool in the middle of February—something they don’t get to do too often, being from Montana, and something to remind us Californians not only how lucky we are, but how much the blood can be thinned in warmer climates, as those of us who have lived here for years think 70 is still too cold to go swimming. [Stockyard Queen: Hell, when we lived out there, everybody whined like 10-year-olds if the temperature dipped below 60. No wonder I had to leave.]

Back on our couch in the lobby, we were surprised at how much different it was than the day before—there were no riders to be seen outside the restaurant. After a quick trip to Target (when upon returning, we almost collided with Kasey, Brian, and a couple others—finally!) and an hour in the lobby without any further sightings, we finally went to lunch, at which time Guilherme stepped out of the elevator and offered a pleasant “hello” for us as we walked by.
After a lunch, we were back at the hotel for another couple hours of sitting. During this time, we saw Luke Snyder walk out in full cowboy-sponsor clothing and step outside to wait for a taxi. We watched as he took a minute to play with another guest’s bulldog, then, as he sat on the bench right outside the window, our eyes turned in shock to the back of his shirt. The closest thing to a metro-sexual the cowboy world has probably ever seen, the always well put-together Luke Snyder was wearing a shirt so terribly wrinkled it looked like he’d slept in it. It had us wondering what Rachel Ray would think if she could see him at that moment. A few minutes later, he was joined by Mike White and they headed out to their autograph signing.

After a bit more time, J.B. Mauney walked by, again with his girlfriend, and then, a few minutes later, Flint walks by. I decided to call him over. I told him that I was the sister of the Border Patrol agent he’d spoken to the day before and asked if I should smack him upside the head for asking if he was “the head clown.” Flint laughed and said “Nah, it’s okay.” Then, as he turned to leave, he looked back at us and said, “Tell him I’m not the ‘head’ clown—I’m ‘the’ clown. That he is.

Not long after that, we finally saw Brian Canter alone. This was Laura’s big chance as she’s a huge Brian fan. After a moment to take a deep breath, she waved him over. Without thinking, because sometimes, when faced with a favorite celebrity, one can be prone to not thinking, she smiled and gave him a hug. Since I was behind them, I got to see the shocked look on his face as his arms slowly kicked into “hug back” mode. I grinned and gave him a helpless shrug, let her say her piece, then took their picture. Okay—my turn now. Surely I can keep it together . . . well, maybe, sort of . . . I shook his hand and told him how good it was to see him back healthy and riding so well. Unfortunately for him, I did one of those handshakes where you use a firm grip, but then let your hand soften to just hold the fingers for a second while talking. Once again, the little voice in my head started shouting, “Let go!” Thankfully, I listened to it. I told him about our encounter from the year before, because I’d been told that I should remind him and he’d probably remember. Yeah. Right. It was obvious from a few sentences in that not only did he not remember, but he also had no idea how to respond. It was time to let him off the hook, so I said something to give him an out and he took it—being as gracious as possible as he left. So, I can file my encounter with him under the “awkward” category. I was, however, able to look back at it and laugh.

The final group of riders we saw before we left was the international crew of McKennon, Renato, Leonil, and Peter. They came out and sat down right around us, McKennon right next to me. He started talking to us and I was actually able to have a good conversation—well, as good as I could, given that this guy’s eyes are so mesmerizing that it was hard not to just stare at him. We learned that the lobby had been so empty because all the guys were sleeping in. He himself didn’t wake up until just a short time before, but that was due to two hours of sleep on Thursday night—something to do with an early flight and time zones. We talked about Reese, autographs, his getting to Arizona by hitching a ride with Chad Berger. I told him that I’d left my autograph item in the car because I didn’t think we’d see anyone. He told me that he wouldn’t be in the ring that night after the show because he was going to be at the Jeffrey Scott Booth from 4:30–5:30 p.m. I told him I’d be there. When we had to leave for dinner, I wished them all luck and said I’d see him later. Finally! The second of two really good encounters (the first being with Guilherme)!

Dinner at the Outback Steakhouse was very relaxing—too relaxing, in fact. I glanced at my watch and noticed that if we didn’t leave for the arena, we’d miss McKennon’s signing. I really wanted his autograph and I told him I’d be there! My sense of responsibility sometimes goes into overdrive and I swear, this signing factored into my anxiety. Sadly, in our rush to get there—because I just knew that McKennon would be distraught for days because the girl on the couch promised she’d be there and didn’t show up!—I didn’t pay attention to the street signs and we got lost (again!). By the time we got there, I had accepted the fact that it was too late—the booth was closed. Hopefully, we’ll see him in Ontario and I can get his autograph then. The jury is still out as to whether or not I’ll remind him of our talk at the hotel in Anaheim.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Two Fans at the Event: Day One, Part II

The Stockyard Queen gratefully relinquishes the floor to Shannon, who continues to report on the PBR event in Anaheim. I am so jealous of the seats she got!

The Two Fans at the Event: Day One, Part II

Finally, we made it to the event. We found my brother and said hello, then paid too much for fries, chicken fingers, and soda, and went to our seats. And what seats they were!! Five rows back from the dirt and four rows in from the chutes! You could feel the heat as the demon bulls breathed fire! The bang from the fireworks actually made me jump! The bulls were so close that when one of them hit the fence in front of us, we jumped back, and when one of them flung what I was hoping was dirt, it came inches from hitting me! In front of us were Flint’s wife and daughters, one of whom was so wiped out from her week at Disneyland and less amused with her father’s antics than the rest of the audience, that she fell asleep for most of the event. Behind us was the Cutest Cowboy recipient with his beautiful mother, as well as Mrs. White and their adorable son. Right down in the front row was one rider’s sister (whose names I will leave out, out of respect to them should anyone who knows them be lurking here)—a pretty girl who should be told that it’s not solely up to her to keep the make up industry afloat—or the rhinestone industry, or the hair product industry. Next to her was J.B. Mauney’s girlfriend. She’s very pretty and I swear, I could starve myself to 80 pounds and still not be that tiny! Besides them the rest were just everyday fans and crew/staff members. I heard a comment after Mike Lee was done riding (a buck off with a tricky dismount) about wearing a helmet to which his buddy responded “Hell, I’d wear a body cast.” Amen.

As I said, I can’t say too much about the rides. I watched most of it through a camera lens anyway. There were some really impressive ones and only one reride all night, although I did question why two of others weren’t offered rerides, but I should know better than to try to figure out what the judges are thinking.

After it was over, we got the obligatory autographs and I finally got to say a word or two to Ryan Dirteater, who responded in a very polite, sweet way, and I watched as some adoring fans insisted on photographs only to make the guys wait because the camera wasn’t working. [Stockyard Queen: The Wait a Minute School of Photography. My ex-mother-in-law founded it.] Others foisted their babies into their arms only to make them wait while they attempted to get their little ones to smile. Our guys are so patient!

When we realized that no one else was coming out, we left, and after getting turned around and having to find our way back, we went to the party. After ten minutes of music so loud it was making our ears bleed, we decided to go back the hotel bar instead, where we found J.B., his girlfriend, and Kasey sitting quietly at the end of the bar chatting. The teenager in me wanted to sit there as long as he did and just watch him, but the mature adult in me forced myself to turn away and only steal an occasional glance. Around midnight, I left for my hour drive home, crawled into bed and now, after four hours of sleep, I’m about to get ready to head out and do it all again. If there’s anything more that is worthy of reporting, I’ll do just that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Two Fans on the Couch: Day One, Part One

Folks, our good friend Shannon is reporting in from the Anaheim Invitational. I have to say, I admire her sand. If you've never been to a PBR event, her description will give you a taste of the experience. Enjoy!

The Two Fans on the Couch: Day One, Part One

Before I begin telling you about my first day, I have to fill you in on two details:
1. I’m not going to write a lot about the bull rides themselves. I’m not as astute at many of you when it comes to what makes one ride better than the others unless the differences between them go from one extreme to the other. This comes with my apologies as I know that the PBR will not be showing round one on tv.
2. I love Kasey Hayes. There. I admitted it. I don’t love him in the same manner as Guilherme—that of an excellent rider who is unbelievably good looking and very, very nice to boot, nor do I love him in the way that I love Reese for totally embracing his fans and what celebrity means. Nor do I love him in the way that I love Ryan Dirteater for not only making waves in his second season (his first full one at that!), but for relaxing enough to have fun in a way that says, “I finally feel like I’m part of the family now!” I love Kasey in a way that brings me back to my teen years in a *Squee!!!* “It’s Matt Dillon, John Stamos, Simon LeBon, >insert your favorite sex symbol from your childhood here<“ kind of love. Now, I know that Kasey doesn’t fit into sex symbol category—he’s a good looking guy (even better in person), imo, and his riding isn’t spectacular, but I have my reasons, but I’ll spare you the explanations. Just keep this in mind as you read the rest of my story—it will give you a better idea of what was going through my mind. **And I promise you: I know my real life boundaries--the aforementioned fan-girly stuff only goes on in my head.
When I first arrived at the hotel, I walked down the long corridor, past an empty table and into the lobby. Here, just after watching Dr. Tandy for a minute, while he was checking in, the lovely Laura stepped off the elevator. We said “hello” and hit it off right away. I told her that I didn’t see my brother anywhere and she pointed out that he was at the now empty table. Frustrated and confused, I called him only to find out that he had to have been walking out the front door, just as I was walking in the back—even though he was supposed to be there until noon and it was only 11:10 a.m. *sigh* Then he, who used to watch PBR occasionally many years ago, and whose memory of it only goes as far as “Adriano and Chris were pretty good riders,” asks me if I knew anyone with the PBR named Tandy. “Yes, Sean, I know Tandy.” “Oh. Well, he was checking in when I left.” “Uh-huh.” Then he says: “You know, you just missed me talking to Flint, too.” “Yeah? Damn.” “Yeah, he was nice. He was walking by and I tapped him on the arm and said ‘Aren’t you the head clown?’” ::facepalms:: Later that day, when Flint was walking by with his family, I had a strong urge to wave him down and apologize on my brother’s behalf. But, then I thought maybe it would be better if I left it alone.
Anyway, Laura and I perched ourselves on the couch in the lobby and had fun watching the guys walk by. Now, we really did want to talk to them, but there was a problem. Many times, “so and so” would walk by with “Oh God, who is that?” and because we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves by admitting that we didn’t know who “Who is that?” was or be rude by ignoring him altogether, there were many times that “so and so” got away without our getting to meet him. Such is the way it was for most of the day. However, there were a couple of riders we did get to meet and chat with. But, before I get to that, I have to tell you about the two men of the hour. The first one comes with an award called “The Best Dressed” and it goes to Zack Brown who is proof that you can take the kid out of California, but not California out of the kid. Amidst a sea of denim, sometimes dirty, jeans, t-shirts, and button up shirts, he was a standout and looking dashing, in white cotton pants and a bright red polo shirt. It was a sight to behold. The next award goes to our “Cutest Cowboy.” This honor goes to young Cooper Teague Coleman who is simply adorable—especially when dressed in his little cowboy outfit and dancing to the music in the lobby. Let’s just hope his looks are the only thing he gets from his father, who I found a bit rude at autograph signing time when he passed me up altogether, then slopped his autograph down for the girl next to me with a look on his face that he’d rather be anywhere but there. That’s ok, Ross—if you can’t be bothered to smile for us, then I can’t be bothered to care about your season, so I guess we’re even.
But, let’s get back to the hotel story: After about an hour, we went across the block to eat lunch and were seated outside on the patio. Here we were able to see a few riders walk by—mostly ones we’d already seen in the hotel—as well as Aaron Roy with “Who is that?” Later, we watched as Kasey, Brian Canter, Brian Herman, and “Who is that?” sauntered across the street over to Target. While walking across the parking lot, Kasey saw fit to chase a pigeon for a few feet, which caused me to quip that I hoped no one from the conduct committee was watching. Later they returned with a bag full of whatever it is that young bull riders would buy at Target. I’m sure I don’t need, nor want, to know.
Back at the hotel, we got back on our couch where we spent the afternoon amused by the fact that these guys were walking in and out of the lobby only to notice that, yes, we were still there (and we will be there the next day, too!). In fact, in the entire day, it seemed as though we were always running into Brian Canter and Kasey (most of the time, they would walk by and see us still sitting on the couch, but once, we almost physically ran into them. That was . . . interesting). They were everywhere, but always with at least one “Who is that?” So, speaking to them looked like it wasn’t going to happen unless we found the guts that we thought we’d brought with us, only to find out that we did indeed leave them behind. Finally, a rider walks into the lobby alone! Kasey—looking for internet service. We called him over and I started with my already rehearsed line. Yes, I rehearse because I foolishly think that this will help me not clam up. Well, it does help, but unfortunately, it works too well as I end up babbling while a little voice in my head is shouting “Shut up!” Anyway, as babbling goes, I didn’t do too bad. The polite Kasey was with us that afternoon and he actually smiled as I told him that I was glad to see him back and doing so well. Now comes the next award –the one SQ calls “Hoof in Mouth”—and it goes to me. Did you ever say something that, even as you’re saying it, you know it’s not quite the right thing to say? Well, out of my mouth comes, “That [accident] was so hard to watch!” during which time the little voice in my mind is saying, “Good, Shannon. I’m sure it was harder to watch than it was to go through it!” So, I immediately capped it with, “I can’t even imagine how that felt.” Good save? If not, I don’t want to know. I asked if he was flooded with fan mail and he said, “I don’t know—it all goes to my parent’s place, so I don’t get it.” Well then, there went $2.50 down the drain. Thankfully, I had the right presence of mind not to say that. Then we set him free by wishing him luck and he thanked us for coming to the event.
Also in the lobby we had a nice chat with Chad Berger in Starbucks, who said he was out here for the first time. That encounter was a pleasant surprise. Later, Guilherme, Ednei, and Robson walked into the lobby. We call them over. Robson gave me a big smile and thank you when I congratulated him on winning Vegas and Guilherme stuck his hand out for a shake when I congratulated him on his win. Then, when I inquired about Paulo, he actually sat down and didn’t just tell us that he was fine, but that he was in Arizona to do some PR, that he was taking a two week vacation in Brazil in a few weeks, that he’s not sure if he’ll come back because it’s a difficult decision and that his wife is having a little boy who is due next week sometime. He went on to say that his family and his restaurant are doing well. In spite of the poor English, which is definitely getting better, he made us feel like we were friends. What a wonderful man! Earlier that day, and then just before we left, we saw McKennon, Pete Farley, Renato Nunez, and Leonil Santos hanging out together. It was so nice to see the Brazilians and the Americans and the Aussies getting along like that as I always wondered if they were as friendly at the hotels as they were behind the chutes. After they left, Brian Herman sat down next to us. Just as he was sitting down, the bellman walked by and said “Break a leg!” After Brian said “Thank you,” he glanced at us and I told him, “Don’t break a leg.” He gave a small laugh and smile and said, “No, I won’t break a leg.” And that was that—he’s not a chatty sort of fellow.
Just before it was time to leave, we realized that the one rider that we were sure we could talk to without babbling or clamming up—Ryan Dirteater—had been not been around. We’d been there for hours and he hadn’t been spotted at all. We mentioned this to a couple of ladies who had just sat down next to us and they informed us that some of the guys were staying at a cheaper hotel because they couldn’t afford the Marriot Suites. Huh. We kept mentioning (ok . . . grumbling) that he was number two in the standings, had won an event, and had picked up a sponsor. Why couldn’t he afford this hotel damnit (?!), as though if we mentioned it enough he’d suddenly materialize in front of us. He didn’t. Nor did he miraculously materialize in the back seat of our car on the way to the event (&@!%$*!!).

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Open Letter to Tom Teague

Dear Mr. Teague:

I hope this finds you well, and your good bull Bones healing after his recent treatment for a hip injury. When I learned of this, I naturally wondered if it had affected the outcome of the match-up between him and J.B. Mauney. More than one of my correspondents commented right after the ride that Bones didn’t leap out of the chute into that big vertical drop that so many cowboys seem to have trouble negotiating, and I, for one, can certainly imagine that landing once on an injured joint from a jump like that might discourage an athlete from doing it again. In any event, I hope we will see that adorable baby back on the tour soon.

You are, without question, one of the most successful stock contractors working with the PBR, but Mr. Teague, I have to tell you, I’m not very impressed with very many of the names of your bulls. “Bones” is a decent name, if not as fear-inspiring as one might hope for such an impressive animal. But the development that really has me baffled has been the seemingly endless name changes for the bull that came into the BFTS as I’m a Crook. Since I'm a Gangster is his paternal brother, I thought I'm a Crook fit nicely, and he certainly has the moves to keep him on the tour. When I learned you’d changed his name to Spin Zone, I assumed you must have had your reasons, but then the very next week, who should run into the chute under yet another name? Now presenting Cut Loose, who, on his first out with that moniker, looked like he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do—he bumped the chute, stumbled, clawed at the dirt, and pitched poor Chris Shivers into the gate before he finally managed to scramble away. Could it be, as one of my readers opined, that he’s having an identity crisis?

I sincerely hope that you’ll consider changing that bull’s name back to I’m a Crook, since to my way of thinking neither of his new names has improved on that one, but on the off chance you’re thinking of changing it yet again, I’d like to make some suggestions. I should preface that by warning you that these names, which my readers thought up at my behest several weeks ago, are not your typical bull names, either. I don’t know what your political leanings are, but I suspect it might come as a serious shock to you to learn that many PBR fans are not dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. Actually, it was sort of shock to me, though a happy one—I figured that I was going to have to live my PBR life tiptoeing around the elephant in the room. In plain English, Mr. Teague, many of my readers share my political persuasions, a fact that gradually surfaced during the presidential election. I expect we are probably feeling what Republicans felt when they managed to foist George Bush off on the nation for another four years in 2004—a huge, weight-lifting-off-the-shoulders relief.

What brought me this embarrassment of riches was the appearance a few weeks ago of a bull named Drill, Baby, Drill. Now, you seem like the fatherly type to me, so I won’t hesitate to confide in you that even if I’d ever been crazy enough to think I could put my hand over my eyes and cast my vote for John McCain, he would have lost me when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. The woman is dumber than dirt and an embarrassment to every professional and/or thoughtful female in the country, including those who loudly insist that they are not feminists. At some point, I remarked on the blog that I thought we’d sent her packing, so I wasn’t thrilled to be reminded of her at a PBR event, of all places, and I invited my readers to come up with names that so-called “liberals” might choose for their bulls, presuming, of course, that any of us actually had enough millions lying around after we get through taking care of the less fortunate to buy us a piece of a bull. Clearly after eight years of Republican rule in this country, there are a lot more of the less fortunate who need our attention, so I have to surmise that the philosophy governing many members of the GOP is an old prayer I heard often as a child among my supposedly Christian brethren: “Lord, bless me and my wife, my son and his wife, us four, and no more.”

Having now doubtless gotten myself into real trouble with a bunch of lurkers, I have to tell you that my readers really came through for me on this. They have demonstrated yet again that they are thoughtful and astute and amazingly funny. Just take a look—there’s bound to be a name here you might really cotton to.

From Jaye, who resides in your neck of the woods: Yes, We Can; JFK; I Have a Dream; and the Stockyard Queen’s pick, Biden My Time. From Shannon, who will be at the PBR event in Anaheim this weekend: No Preconditions; Hardball; Keith’s Countdown; Maddow Mania; and Shoe Fly, which I just love. From Sheila, who is suffering serious Versus withdrawal in her new state of retirement: Bushwhacked, which is, frankly, the way a lot of us have been feeling for a long damned time now. And from S, she who so wickedly skewered Mr. Flint Rasmussen a few weeks ago, a really good one: Al Gore ’Em.

I hope that you will accept these suggestions in the spirit in which they are offered, which is one of bipartisanship and genuine good will. After all, when we pull on our cowboy boots and tuck in our Rockmount Ranchwear shirts, you can’t sort us Democrats out from the Republicans in the PBR fan pen, and that’s as it should be. I have a feeling that Bones is going to come roaring back from his injury, and the contest between him and Big Tex will be a fight of the first order. So I offer you one last possible name for your identity-challenged bull, the bull formerly known as I’m a Crook. Maybe you should change his name one last time, just in time for the big bull throwdown, in recognition of your honorable opponent, to something offered up by S: Hanging Chad.


The Stockyard Queen

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some Days It Just Doesn’t Pay to Get Out of Bed

If I had a weak moment and told you all how I managed to miss the last 15 minutes of Versus’ coverage of the Express Classic in Oklahoma City, you would all cover your eyes and then run screaming from my presence, as you rightly should do when face-to-face with one of the lamest human beings alive. To make matters worse, that little screw-up was the middle of a series of about five or six that plagued me all day long on Sunday. Mind you, nothing got hurt (but my feelings), nothing got broken (but my pride), and I suppose that all’s well that ends well. But if I’d known when I got out of bed what was coming, I swear to you I would have just pulled the covers back up over my head and hoped for better times come Monday morning.

Consequently, I was pretty stunned when I raced upstairs to the computer and learned that Ednei Caminhas won the event and Luke Snyder came in second. Those are exactly the two guys I would never have picked to finish in the top ten, let alone in the one and two spots. I was really happy to see that Ryan Dirteater came in third, but that good news also upset me further, since when I lost my Versus connection, he was in ninth and yet to ride in the short-go.

So if any of you would like to take pity on me and enlighten me as to the relative merits of those three rides, I will be eternally grateful. In the meantime, I am going to slink off to lick my wounds, and remind myself that today is another day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Enough of This

All right, folks, I've had just about enough. As of this moment, and for the duration of this post, I am not going to talk about anything the boys are up to outside their riding. I have had it with the endless loop of the Kasey Hayes saga, starting with the throwing of the helmet, followed by the public apology, and ending up with the fake throwing of the helmet after his first ride in Dallas. I am through trying to figure out why Kody Lohstroh is so utterly dull, except for when he’s exposing himself as the redneck he apparently is, hunting down a worn-out old lion for sport and insulting roughly half the PBR audience by saying he’d ridden “like a girl.” I am done thinking about Flint Rasmussen’s stupidity, I am turning my back when Austin Meier starts testifying about the Christ in him, I really can’t be bothered with the cussin’ and discussin’ on the PBR message boards, and I don’t want to hear another word about Brendon Clark’s groin, please. I’m through with all that. I mean it.

Instead, I’m going to talk about what keeps me coming back to the sport—the bulls. And I have to say that while the bulls I’m seeing in the short-rounds this season generally have been up to snuff, I have not been impressed with the quality of the long-round bulls. With a few exceptions, it’s been a pretty sad slog. Practically everybody who weighed in here after the Madison Square Garden event remarked on how poorly the bulls bucked, and if there’s been any improvement, it’s been marginal.

Just consider, for instance, the results from Winston-Salem. On the first night, there were 24 qualified rides. In the long-round on the second night, there were 16, which is a little closer to what I’d expect, but still high, in my estimation. In the short-go, seven of the 15 cowboys rode, which I frankly think are about three too many.

And this is why: I am absolutely certain, as certain as I’m breathing, that the cowboys aren’t improving by leaps and bounds. We do have some new faces on the BFTS, and have seen some great rides by Ryan Dirteater and Sketter Kingsolver, but for the most part, it’s the same crew we’ve been seeing for years, and as far as I can see, the only ones who are really stepping up their game are Chris Shivers, Matt Bohon, and Austin Meier. What I mean is, those three guys are clearly, obviously riding better this season than they did last season. That might be a little unfair to Shivers, who last year rode decently when he wasn't hurt, but he does seem to have gained some confidence since he returned to the tour. The rest of them don’t look that different.

All this leads me to think that the quality of the long-round pen is declining, not that the cowboys are suddenly evolving into super bull-riding machines. I don’t know if running the Pussy Pen in for the long rounds is a deliberate decision, or if it just sort of happened, but I, for one, am not happy about it.

But while I’m grousing, I suppose I should mention the bulls I loved seeing at Winston-Salem. Code Blue, who looks like a monster talent to me. Big Tex, who had Mike White out of shape and on the ground almost immediately. Blizzard—what can I say about that bull? Ridden three times in 45 outs, that’s all I can say. Chance, who pitched Mike Lee off for a bull score of 46 the first night, and then scored nearly that high when he threw Josh Koschel in the short-go. Sir Patrick, who knocked Zack Brown out cold on Friday night and then made short work of Shane Proctor on Saturday. My man Avalanche, whom brave little Skeeter picked in the short round. Avalanche has only been ridden one time in 40 trips, so I can’t say the results were unexpected, but I have to admire the kid’s initiative. Rocket Launcher, Stiffer, Red Bull, Skyhawk Cut-a-Rug, and Spin Zone, formerly I’m a Crook—though I would like to know why on earth Tom Teague changed that bull’s name.

Bones, of course, did what most people thought he would, but I’m not entirely convinced about him. I have to see if he’s got what it takes over the long haul, and I have to confess I am curious to see what Bones’ reaction will be if he goes get ridden. If he comes back undaunted, then I will know he’s a true champion. This season, the champion bulls have been in short supply, so I will gladly welcome him into the panoply, if he keeps up the good work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And What Became of It, or, Idle Hands

Denizens of the Stockyard, today I offer up to you another adroit visual commentary, inspired by Mr. Flint Rasmussen and cleverly satirized by our new virtual friend S., to wit:

"I totally am armed with a Daisy airgun and wear my Wranglers while driving my F-150 with the Cooper Tires and the B&W trailer hitch pulling my Big Tex trailer with an Exclusive Genetics bull in it while I patrol the border. While doing this, I of course am wearing my Dickies boots and swilling down the Jack Daniels . . . sometimes even while I'm chawing on Copenhagen." - S, 1.29.09

This has been brought to life by the incomparable SoCal Jay, who sadly remarked, "It's unfortunate that we can't see "S" inside the truck. Why on earth did she buy a pickup with tinted windows?"

Oh, yes, it's true, the Stockyard Queen commissioned (some would say commanded) this immortal work. Doubtless I have gotten myself, and possibly all my partners in crime, in trouble with this stunt, but sometimes I just can't help myself. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Let's Take a Little Break

I'll get around to commenting on the Copenhagen Bull Riding Invitational here in a day or two, but first I want to tell you about something that happened about two weeks ago. When I fired up the computer that Monday morning, I found this communique from SoCal Jay, my erstwhile budding PBR fan:

Stockyard Queen,
Life is strange enough when one can't sleep, gets out of bed at 2 in the morning, and goes on the computer, ya know? Weird and even surreal things can easily occur, and often do, as I'm sure you know.
I'm usually on guard against such goblins, to some extent, but I was completely unprepared for a sentence I read on a certain blog: "I have to admit that by the time the short-go rolled around, J.B. could have ridden a wooly mammoth with a cattle prod up his butt, and I would have yawned in the man's face." Before I could so much as put a hand in front of my blood-shot eyes, it was too late, and that image, I'm QUITE sure, was burned (think a branding iron on cowhide) into a dark corner of my brain where, I fear, it will remain forever.
Loveys, -J.

Now, this would be interesting if only because none of the rest of you remarked on that particular phrase, which forces me to conclude that you were all either too mortified by my obvious lack of class to comment, or else you were as bored as I was and thus didn't even notice. But I can always count on Jay to sink to my level and even to flop around there with me in the mire. Hey, it's good clean fun and at our age (and we are almost exactly the same age), we have to make our own fun.

But then Jay had to go and up the ante. A few days after I got this message, I got something else in the mail, which I feel compelled to share with you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to take my hat off in the presence of true genius. I can write 'em up, but Jay can leap from the verbal to the visual, a gift that I truly envy. I am hereby appointing him Artist in Residence at the Stockyard. Stay tuned for his next contribution!