Thursday, May 6, 2010

Our Woman in Billings: The Ambiance

Late as it is, I’m going to try to get up a few more quick posts about our trip to the Nile, and then I swear I’ll leave you all alone about it. I have to congratulate myself, though, because on this, our fourth trip to the event, we have FINALLY figured out where to sit. This is no small accomplishment, because even though the folks who sell you tickets at the box office are the nicest people on the planet, their little seating chart looks like a first project for an 8th grade drafting class. It’s just about impossible to tell how well you’ll be able to see by looking at the chart, so at some point you just have to toss up the bucks and take your chances.

Indeed, if we had gotten the seats we had last year on our second trip, we might have never again sprung for the “expensive seats,” since even though we were in the front row of the section, we were so far from the action we might as well have been out in the parking lot with the jackasses who were soliciting signatures for a petition to outlaw abortion in Montana.

This time, I bought the tickets so late that I’d resigned myself to yet again having awful seats, but the lady at the box office really came through for us. We found ourselves in the middle of a row in the second tier, about four rows back, to the left of the bucking chutes, and ideally situated to see just about everything.

Aside from the skanks immediately behind us on the right (and down in the front row of the section, and two rows behind her, and behind us on the left), the folks we sat with were very congenial. One fine old gentleman right behind me obviously fell in love with me instantly—he kept patting me on the shoulder and asking me what the rider’s score had been. He might not have known the score, but his wife clearly did, and after about the third time, she shut him down and he kept his hands to himself (at least as far as I was concerned) for the rest of the evening.

The Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park is a tiny little stadium—it’s billed as seating 10,000, but I’m damned if I can see how that many people could shoehorn their way into it. The place was packed to the rafters, too. For this particular event, a dude with a crossbow fired a flaming arrow across the arena and lit the PBR lettering in the dirt—much more impressive than those guys sneaking around the arena in the dark to do the deed.

Then the roman candles started exploding, and the music hit about 100 decibels, and the confetti started to fall, and I felt like I was in a big snow globe being shaken by the Jolly Green Giant. Ordinarily I hate that stuff, but this time, I was ready for it in spades. How could I not be? Montana Barn Cat and I had a lot to celebrate. What better place to do it than the PBR on a Saturday night?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Our Woman in Billings: The Bulls

I trust, Dear Readers, that you will forgive me for vanishing so suddenly last week, in mid-report, as it were. Between MONTANA BARN CAT PASSING HIS WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATIONS FOR HIS PH.D., finishing up a huge book project, and catching a rotten head cold, I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a windstorm, when I wasn’t in bed sniffling and sneezing. Never fear—I am back, and determined, late as it is, to honor my obligations and finish up what I started.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes! I wanted to write a few lines about the best bulls we saw in Billings at the Nile. To begin with, I was not that impressed with the bull pen on Saturday night, since out of 46 attempts, 22 riders managed to stay aboard. I was not happy about that. I am there to see the bulls, I’ve never made a secret of that, and anytime more than a third of the boys stick to their bulls, I am disappointed. I do have more favorites among the riders this season than since I started following the sport, but I still love the bulls best.

That said, here is a short list of the bulls who bucked like they meant it on that long-ago Saturday night:

Little Mr. T, who put Paulo Ferreira on the ground;

Bells and Whistles, who made short work of Stormy Wing;

Chococondra, who didn’t like Chris Shivers one bit;

Lacey Balls, whom I like more every time I see him;

Bootlegger, who unloaded Brendon Clark pronto;

Drill Baby Drill, whom I love even while despising the source of his name;

Cool Cat, who bucked Dusty Ephrom off; and

Class 6 Kat, who pitched Mike Lee off in an unceremonious heap.

But by far the best bull in the pen that night was Charlie Bullware, who apparently didn’t get the memo stating that Austin Meier was the new Great White Hope and should henceforth be let off easy. Since Charlie has his own Facebook page, I’m pretty sure he can read, so maybe he just begged to differ on that point. Mr. Meier did not have a good weekend in Billings, and I’m sure Charlie was pleased that he contributed so gallantly to that situation.