Friday, October 29, 2010


Friends and neighbors, while we are awaiting the Divine S’s immortal report about her on-the-ground experiences at the PBR World Finals, and preparatory to what will doubtless be a deluge of philosophical ponderings about the sport during the break, I want to say a few words about the way it played out in the living room of our lovely home during the broadcasts.

First up, I should tell you that Montana Barn Cat and I had fully intended to go to Vegas for the finals this year—until I learned that the only seats available were up in the nosebleed sections. I even went so far as to CALL THE BOX OFFICE, which is, as you most certainly know, unheard of in these days of online shopping. The very kind gentleman I spoke with me assured me that I could get floor seats IF I bought them for ALL FIVE DAYS. One of the reasons we had never gone to the finals before was that we hated the idea of being stuck in Vegas for 10 days, and the prospect of dialing that back to five was not quite enticing enough to lure us out there.

Nevertheless, since she had been to the finals before, I consulted with S, who told me that the PBR mostly gives tickets for the floor seats to sponsors, many of whom don’t even show up. That was when we decided that for once, we really COULD see it better on TV than in person.

Second, we were not disappointed—this was by far the most exciting finals either of us has witnessed. It had everything—a close race for the title, great rides, terrible wrecks, bulls that bucked like their lives depended on it, newcomers who wickedly threw spanners into the works, and old hands who enjoyed a brief revival of their glory days. We were absolutely limp by the time Silvano Alves and McKennon Wimberly hoisted Renato onto their shoulders and carried him, wrapped in the Brazilian flag, around the arena.

But as we all know to our sorrow, into every life some rain must fall, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that we experienced some lows as well as highs. And being the cranky miscreants that we are, of course those lows were greeted with shouts of dismay and horror. Because we would not want anybody to think that every day with the PBR is all unicorns and rainbows, we are reporting here a few of the observations made in our living room over that long stretch.

In an effort to not completely turn you all away from us forever, we must issue some disclaimers: First, some of this stuff is just pretty damned crude, so be forewarned. Do not read this if you are easily upset by the profane and the vulgar. Second, we cannot entirely conceal the identities of those that some of these remarks were aimed at, but we freely acknowledge that no doubt some of them are completely wrong and possibly unfair. Third, because we so love and respect one another (and because we need to cover one another's butts), we are adopting the method of Pierre and Marie Curie, who, when they were forced in their lab reports to distinguish between themselves, wrote, “One of us.” Here goes.

On seeing the leather-clad babes come in to give Michael Gaffney a congratulatory kiss for his predictions: “Their names are Cash and Tiffany? They should be ‘Cash’ or ‘Credit Card.’”

When one of us wondered what the winner of the fantasy contest was praying about after the truck started, the other replied: “Thank you, Lord, for helping me win this truck. Now I can haul my meth to town.”

On watching Justin McBride, backed by a fiddler, a bass guitarist, a steel guitarist, a drummer, and TWO other guitarists, mangle a Chris Le Doux song beyond all recognition: “Chris LeDoux must be about to rise from the dead and hogtie that boy.” Addendum: I presume one of those was the lead guitarist and the second was playing rhythm guitar, which just shows how really awfully McBride must play if he can’t even do a decent job on rhythm guitar. Trained monkeys can do it competently.

On hearing a commentator wax eloquent about the skills of a, er, washed-up rider who should have retired years ago: “The longer they’ve been on the tour, the harder the PBR types will _____ their _____.”

On watching yet another infantile display by a rider who had just been bucked off: One of us: "I am going to drive to wherever he lives, slap him senseless, slap his entire family senseless, slap his dog senseless, bulldoze his house, set fire to the rubble, and sow the soil with salt."

On watching the Rockstar girl strut around the arena in her leather outfit, waving her 90-point ride placard: “If you score 95, does she take her top off?”

That’s it for now. See you back here soon for S’s reports.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reindeer Games

Come in, friends, and take a seat—I need to speak seriously with you for a moment. For several days, I have been pondering a conversation that took place on the Zonkboard last week. Several of you were chatting about the Final Five event in Times Square next weekend. Shelia, who feels that this event may prevent the riders from getting rested up for the finals, remarked, “If anyone should appear in NYC to promote the World Finals, it should be the reigning champion, who has been absent unless he's riding! Kody, like Brian Canter and Kasey Hayes, should have shown up at events while recuperating. If the PBR didn't promote the 09 champ, it was because he wasn't available!”

Now, this is interesting on several fronts, the first and most obvious being that Shelia is absolutely right. Where the hell has Lostroh been, anyway? The official explanation from the PBR for his absence is that he’s been recovering from surgery. That might wash among those who are inclined to swallow any explanation whole, but I am not buying it, and here’s why: Several times during the six months that Justin McBride was out of competition because of a shoulder injury, he was still on hand as a commentator. And of course many other injured riders quite routinely show up at events and even come out to meet the fans on occasion.

Has ANYBODY seen Kody at ANY EVENT this season?

Oh, sure, we’ve all seen him now—he’s back on the tour. But why, exactly, has he not been out promoting the sport while his elbow healed up?

Where have you been, Kody?

I have to admit that I was thunderstruck by Shelia’s observation, and I feel considerable embarrassment about that for several reasons. First, I never even noticed that Lostroh wasn’t around—AT ALL—all season long. Second, I haven’t missed him ONE BIT. Third, when he did return to riding a few weeks ago, I realized yet again that I really do not like anything about him—not his put-me-to-sleep riding style, not the way he plays it safe when he picks bulls in the draft, not his beady-eyed stare when he’s looking into the camera.

But the fact remains that Kody Lostroh is the reigning World Champion of the Professional Bull Riders. He won $1,628,442.80 in competition last year, $1 million of that at the finals when he clinched the championship. But I guess the fact that he owes the sport a great deal didn’t stack up against the attractions of whatever he’s been doing instead of representing the sport to the fans and the larger world.

Yo, Kody—where have you been? My guess would be out shooting the **** out of something harmless, but I would really like to hear it from you.

When Justin McBride retired suddenly just before the finals two years ago, I was genuinely surprised to learn that one reason he was quitting was that he was tired of dealing with what he called “the media.” I suspect that might have at least partly been code for “the fans” as well, but McBride certainly affirmed that he was tired of being in the spotlight. Here’s the amazing thing about that—I had no idea he felt that way.

Over the years, I have found a lot to object to about McBride’s demeanour and his sometimes astonishing ignorance of what I consider to be common knowledge (and the way he conducts himself on “PBR Now” is frequently just embarrassingly adolescent, to say nothing of the irritating way he continually slaps the desk), but I really never imagined for a minute that he found the whole experience of being the world champ wearing. I truly believed that he ate it up with a spoon.

The title of this post, by the way, came from a comment that the divine S made when she and I were exchanging emails last week. “Lostroh seems really....not interested in being the media darling,” she remarked. “And people are surprised that the PBR has seized upon J.B. Mauney, who is not Brazilian and can play their reindeer games with some grace.”

Shelia seconded that opinion, but she also offered up an observation that, again, I found very revealing. She is, as you probably know, a member of Mauney’s Minions, a group of J.B.’s supporters. “But one thing we realized after meeting J.B. several times is he really doesn't have much to say to the fans,” she said. “He wasn't blessed with the ‘gift of gab’ like Adriano, Sean, J.W., Jody, or Beau—all of whom I have had lengthy discussions with. But J.B. is out there, smiling, shaking hands, saying, ‘Thank you very much,’ ‘Yes, Ma'am,’ ‘Yes, Sir,’ ‘Alright.’ It might be just as difficult for J.B. to deal with fans and media as it is for Kody, but J.B. does it!”

Maybe the simplest answer really is the explanation—maybe Lostroh is just so painfully uncomfortable dealing with the media that he could not force himself to step up and do the right thing.

Maybe the answer is a little more sinister, or at least cynical—maybe Lostroh views his obligations to represent professional bull riding as nothing more than reindeer games, a ridiculous sideshow that he’d just as soon skip.

But frankly, I don’t care what his reasons are. I say that Lostroh has fallen down on the job. If you are willing to hang out with the boys and cash the checks, then you are obligated to deal with the aspects of the sport that you don’t like that much—ESPECIALLY when you’re the reigning World Champion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Discovering Leah

Gentle and devoted readers,

Last weekend, Montana Barn Cat and I ran away from home to Billings, where we ate and drank everything that couldn't run fast enough to escape from us at Bistro Enzo and then conked out at the Wingate. We weren't quite tired enough, though, to crash without watching at least a few minutes of television, through which adventure we had the good luck (or misfortune) to stumble upon our very own Leah Garcia working her day job.

This is but a taste of the actual infomercial, which went on and on and on . . . I kid you not, I could not believe how long the damned thing was. But here's the really great part: Throughout the first part of the program, the divine Leah was wearing a white summer suit with the coat open and a green sports bra. I vote she shows up at the next BFTS event in that rig--then we'll see just how gentlemanly (or not) those boys really are. I'd make a sizable bet, right now, that Leah's abs are better than those of any rider currently on tour. Any of you boys men enough to take me up on that?