Friday, November 2, 2012

Fast Times in Indiana

My dear friends, I had hoped to wax eloquent about the PBR World Finals that ended on Sunday, and I may still get to that, but the march of time has brought us a new development that deserves our attention. The Divine Pearl de Vere, relentless bloodhound that she is, sent the Stockyard Queen a link yesterday to a story in Autoweek. Take a look and try not, as Miss Ruby would say, drop your teeth. And don't miss the comments, which is where the feathers really start to fly.

This is all very interesting, given the current sad state of the PBR and its witless CEO, Jim Haworth. We haven't heard much out of Jim since he famously stated that all female fans are buckle bunnies and then issued a non-apology about it. One of my correspondents lovingly referred to Haworth as a "meathead." I can't say his behavior has suggested anything much different.

Please, let us at the Stockyard know what you think about this. Should the PBR make a change at the top? Do we need to revise our clarion call to "Bring back Justin McKee AND Randy Bernard!"?

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Really Must Say

Friends and neighbors, as is usually the case, the PBR World Finals are a veritable feast of possible subjects for the studious blogger, and I can hardly decide which dish to offer up for your lasting pleasure (or indigestion) first. But since tonight’s festivities will doubtless produce yet another embarrassment of riches, I must talk for a minute about that nasty situation last night with Austin Meier.

And we might as well just flop it out on the table. What on earth possessed the producers to let the cameras keep rolling as Austin writhed in anguish on the floor behind the chutes? Can this possibly be the same PBR that whisks the wounded (walking and otherwise) off the main stage and into the wings and from there straight into the backwoods, never to be heard from again?

It’s all very well for Austin to show us he has a sense of humor with those droll ads about his encounter with the massage therapist (although I have to wonder if anybody at PBR headquarters realizes that you have to be NEKKID to have a massage). It’s quite another to stand around gawking while the man moans and gasps for breath after being thoroughly banged around in the chutes.

I really have to wonder what Austin himself thought about it. Certainly he showed us what he’s made of when he crawled back over the fence and onto the back of the bull. But Austin's face really shows it when he’s in pain--more than just about any other bull rider I can think of. When Leah Garcia was interviewing him after his ride, he looked like he’d been dragged through a rat hole backwards. 

Here’s hoping that he’s feeling better tonight. Mostly, though, here’s hoping that somebody who works for the PBR (dare we say David Alan?) has the good sense not to repeat such an atrocity. I for one do not ever want to see anything like that ever again. Just fucking forget it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Must Say

Bulls were beyond awesome last night!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Looking to the Future

An excerpt from a much longer discussion between two of the three wranglers of this blog about the upcoming events this weekend:

"Did you see that Hummer won't be there this weekend?!?!?!?!?"


"Yeah, they are subbing in Brandon Bates one day and Clint Adkins the next.

"I guess we'll see if they can keep their sexism in check, but I have to hope they'll be less dopey than Hummer."

"I wouldn't bet on it--the 'color' is provided by J.W. 'Flapping Piehole' Hart, so anything could happen."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some Very Disturbing News

Folks, Pearl and I just stumbled upon a news story that ran in the Weatherford, Texas, Democrat last Wednesday (June 22). It reports that McKennon Wimberly was arrested  that afternoon for allegedly shooting a hitchhiker.

Of course, we don't know the whole story yet, but nothing about this sounds good to the Stockyard Queen. Let's hope the justice system in Weatherford gets this sorted out as quickly as possible. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Boneheaded and Bullheaded

So Pearl de Vere and the Stockyard Queen were sitting around last week, drinking beer and moaning about the sad state of the PBR and alternately accusing one another of being lazy bitches because neither of us has posted a thing on Turn Him Out! in weeks. Then practically in the same breath, we both confessed that we have been daunted by the fact that every time we start writing a post, we also start ranting because there is so much wrong with the way this season has been managed that we feel like screaming our heads off about ALL of it, straight off.

So the Stockyard Queen, being a masterful negotiator and pourer of oil on troubled waters, suggested that instead of trying to wrestle the whole bull pen of stampeding issues to the ground in one mega-session, we should try for a series of posts that deal with only one matter. And since the Stockyard Queen opened this Stockyard, and Pearl is to some degree just an innocent bystander who got dragged into the stompings, the Queen volunteered to go first. In the end, though, it took both of us to write this post, but at least that gives us both plausible deniability.

The Stockyard Queen, being nothing if not diplomatic, posits that two words will sum up her discontents with the PBR: boneheaded and bullheaded. It seems like that outfit repeatedly makes stupid moves and then compounds the carnage by insisting that 1) they were the right moves and 2) they aren't going to talk about it anymore and 3) furthermore, nobody else better talk about it either, OR ELSE. On top of that, Pearl and the Queen agree that every time they think the Powers That Be (whoever the hell they are--does anybody really know?) have pulled a stunt so outrageous that they cannot possibly top it, they outdo themselves, sometimes within a few hours or days so the last atrocity. 

SQ has already bitched about the sorry state of the broadcast schedule, and we know because we have heard it from the horse's mouth that many of our readers have lost interest in the PBR entirely because of it. 

Nevertheless, one thing you can always, always count on the PBR to do is to hide the fishhook in the pecan pie. It would be naïve to read a PBR press release and not suspect that when they announce something wonderful, they are usually covering up something horrible. We have to give them full points for trying to spin their bad news, but unfortunately, once people figure out that it really is bad news, the PBR folks would rather face a firing squad than admit it. The one exception we can think of, the extraordinarily defensive post in which they finally explained that they had been caught with their pants down when NBC Sports bought Versus and gave the PBR the boot, just proves the point. And oh, never mind that they had a whole year to think about what might happen. That's the boneheaded part.

Then the plot thickened--the PBR announced its new fan club, Posse, and of course they insisted that Posse would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, and we should all just line up and shell out. It took roughly five seconds for the Divine Pearl to deduce that whatever good things Posse was offering members with one hand, it was taking away from the fanbase at large with the other, and we are just pretty damned sure that there are more fans than there are fan club members. 

So the story about Posse goes on forever, and there are a few new and improved features, but the big change for the rest of us who don't feel like shelling out for a membership is that the Live Event Center, which once was where you could go to find out what was happening during the events that weren't broadcast (in other words, most of them), now will only show scores and the leaderboard for free (although you do have to register to gain access). To see the video, hear the audio, see the Bull Stock Media photos, or even view the detailed scoring, you have to be at least a Tough member. This means that for all the events not shown on TV, you would have to pay at least $29.95 to have crappy streaming of Flint doing his same crappy stuff, or anything useful beyond the very basics of who scored and who is winning.

Basically, the LEC video is like being at an event, although they sometimes do interviews and other features. It's Clint and Brandon and Flint miked in, and a few cameras showing the rides. Some replays are shown, but not too much that requires post-editing. If you have a slow Internet connection, you're probably going to have a problem. It's not great resolution, so enlarging it makes it pixelated and icky, especially when you have something like a fast-spinning bull.

The detailed scoring breaks down the scores per judge for bull and rider. You won't know this with the basic scoring, which just shows rider and bull score.

Sometimes Bull Stock Media is the only way to know what's going on when the video crashes, since they usually post a photo of each ride and what the result of the ride was. You won't have this, either, unless you are a paying member.

Another fine new feature is that the LEC will now have a live chat board. Pearl and the Stockyard Queen frankly have no inkling about what the chat is, but we also can't imagine why anyone would want it. Will they moderate it? Can you imagine the fights if they don't? Can you imagine how useless it will be if they do?

So, just to overstate our point, we have less TV coverage, which nobody is happy about and which the folks in Pueblo must certainly have figured out by now. And yet they compound the problem because now we have to pay if we want to watch live streaming. Granted, some of it is stuff that we wouldn't have seen in past years (the first day of a three-day event), but some of it is stuff we would have seen before.

We are mystified as to how the Powers That Be think they can grow the sport when we suspect that most of the fanbase has Hughesnet, which can barely support streaming, and people would have to shell out for a higher TV package and for the ability to even try to see the video or anything useful on the LEC. And how many looky-loos are going to bother to register, and of those who do, how many will want to stick around to see basic scoring, the leaderboard, and some freaky chat?

This mess with the LEC is the bullheaded part. (We of course mean no offense to SQ's favorite players, the bulls themselves. When they use their heads, the outcome is nearly always spectacular, and sometimes terrifying.)

Or, to put it another way, friends and neighbors, if you want to see the definition of insanity acted out with unfailing regularity, just follow the PBR. We guarantee that you will see a bunch of fine folks doing the same (boneheaded and bullheaded) things over and over, and expecting the results to be different. We can pretty much guarantee it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's the End of the World as We Know It

Friends, I write to tell you of a decision that Montana Barn Cat and I, with great sorrow, arrived at perhaps three weeks ago. We had been debating the matter since January, really, when the new PBR season began and it immediately became apparent that bad things were happening with our favorite sport. As each succeeding month arrived, our debates became more urgent, although certainly they were never heated. We were in accord about our disdain for the amateurish way the broadcast schedule were being handled, thoroughly horrified by the fact that Justin McKee is still missing in action from the programs, and incensed by the way the PBR handles serious injuries, which reared its ugly head as soon as the season started at Madison Square Garden and Pistol Robinson crawled out of the arena on two broken legs. I don't have to remind any of you that's pretty much the last we've heard about that child, except for the occasional non-informational update. Finally, one day as we were driving home after work, I looked at the Barn Cat, he looked at me, and we said in unison: "We are not going to the PBR in Billings this year." That's right. For the first time in the five years that we have been back in Montana, we will not making that lovely two-hour drive to Billings in the spring of the year. The sweet ladies at the turnstiles will not see our smiling faces beneath our cowboy hats. We will be tuning in from home instead, assuming we can stand it. We would like to think that we are staying home because we are so high-minded that we cannot stand to support an outfit with managers so inept over the smallest things, like making sure they actually have a broadcast contract in place and that they keep the fans in the loop about the condition of injured riders, but the truth is, it all came down to money. When we go to the PBR in Billings, we go on Friday night and come back on Sunday afternoon. We stay at the host hotel (the Crowne Plaza downtown, except for one year when the Crowne was being remodeled and we were stuck out on the edge of town in some truly grungy dump with peeling wallpaper and dirty ceilings), we visit friends, we eat a couple of nice dinners, and we go to the event on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. We have endured Flint's spiel so many times that I swear either of us could recite it to you verbatim ("We all know that the true, die-hard fans come out on Sunday"). We have seen riders, some of whom we had high hopes for, come and go, and we have seen bulls come and go, and now we are seeing ourselves go, quite possibly from the live events for good. The cold hard facts are that the total expense of two nights at the Crowne in a reasonably nice room plus two good meals plus drinks in the bar after the event on Saturday (and a couple of rounds bought for nice lawyers who were riding their Harleys down from Calgary to Sturgis last year) and the gasoline to get over there and back is still less than the cost of four tickets to the two events. And I am not talking all-access, back-of-the-chutes tickets, either. I'm talking about the tickets in the lower tier of seats in the second section over from the chutes (because the view from the second section is way better than from the first), where you don’t have to look past Flint being creepy to see all the action. Believe me—we can go a lot of places that will cost us less than $1,000 for two days. I have to wonder how people with fewer resources than we have can afford to attend, either. Certainly a person has to make attending a priority, and in this economy, many other things have to take precedence over two nights of entertainment, even if it is the PBR. So when the doors open at the Metra this year, we will be missing in action. We will spend the weekend pulling weeds, doing laundry, and trying to figure out when the hell the event will be broadcast and on which network. Perhaps that's for the best. The truth is that we, like our good friends Jean and William, fell in love with the sport because we saw it on television. Perhaps being compelled to comply with religious practices that we don't agree with and to endure a heapin' helpin' of Republican politics and rampant militarism will fade some from our memories, and we will joyfully pull on our spurs and saddle up for the drive next year. I hope we will. It would be very sad if our enthusiasm for the sport ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where Do I Begin?

No, I am not dead, nor am I hospitalized with two broken legs and a fractured pelvis. I have just been buried under a pile of work that would make Hercules pause a moment, pull out his bandana, and wipe his brow in anticipation. Sometimes I feel like a postal worker, toiling away on one emergency and seeing, out of the corner of my eye, a never-ending line of other people and projects who need my attention. Fortunately, I had the good sense to move to the online end of my business, so I, unlike the U.S.P.S., am unlikely to ever become obsolete because I didn't foresee what was coming down the pike.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I actually have been pondering for a couple of weeks which of the nearly intolerable issues with the current PBR season I should tackle first. They gather 'round me, friends, like so many hungry puppies, nipping at my sleeves and begging pathetically for Pupperoni snacks. But one of them is growling now, and growling loudly, so I guess I better put down the tools of my trade and feed the bulldog.

And that bulldog is the damned broadcast schedule. I have thought about this seriously, and I cannot for the life of me see how the Powers That Be at PBR headquarters could possibly have made it any harder for us to watch the sport. And since I can search for "bull riding" via my DVR, I am more fortunate than most fans, who have to go to the website and poke around (and we all know how user-friendly and helpful the site is) to determine what network will be broadcasting the event, and when, and then translate that to their own particular time zone.

Honestly! Do the dolts who caused this mess not understand that the broadcasts are the ONLY reason the PBR has managed to gain a decent fan base outside of the NASCAR-loving, Stars-and-Bars waving, redneck, fundamentalist, snake-handling, right-wing demographic? Maybe that's straying from the main point, which is this: Take away the broadcasts, and the number of attendees of all persuasions at live events will plummet. You (and the PBR accountants) can take that prediction to the bank.

So here we are, with only ONE broadcast per event on most weekends, if we are lucky, and it is a not infrequent occurrence that the programming immediately before the PBR runs over, thus truncating an already abbreviated experience. I literally cannot count the number of times I have recorded the event, only to discover that the end has been lopped off because some eighth-tier basketball game slopped over into the PBR timeslot.

Just consider the atrocity perpetuated on us this past weekend--the Albuquerque event was a three-day event, and in the end, J.B. Mauney won for the third time this season, but all we got to see was one hour--the 15 on 15 on Sunday afternoon. How can any sensible person consider that a fair representation of the sport?

I hope somebody in Pueblo is working on solving this problem, because it is rapidly sapping a lot of my enthusiasm for the sport. It just makes me weary, and I assure you that I am not alone.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, Sacramento

Our intrepid reporter S. has braved the wilds of Sacramento, and emerged to bring us the following post and photos!

Actually, I did quit Sacramento back in 2010, and with initial trepidation turning quickly into infatuation, transferred my love to Fresno. Let us compare: Sacramento has bad traffic, controversy (the Kasey Hayes helmet incident, the Mauney/Jacoby/scoring fiasco), few fan activities, and incredibly lame bull pens (culminating with the year that Mike Lee probably filled a whole flight by himself with repetitive goes on really poor re-ride bulls); Fresno had Amtrak, pleasant events, lots of fan activities, and good to great bull pens. So it figures that after two years of happiness with Fresno, the PBR, in all their wisdom, drew up the schedule for 2012 and Fresno was not on it, forcing our break-up.

So what to do to get a PBR fix? It was off into the bad traffic crawling slowly toward the Powerbalance Pavilion. Although I would have really loved to have seen the inaugural 15/15 (and Asteroid!), it wasn't to be, for a variety of reasons, so Sunday was the day. After grabbing subs nearby so we could avoid the usual gross nachos, we arrived in good time. I had been hoping against hope that there would be more fan events (or even early entry) than the sad three or four sponsor-affiliated signings listed on the website, but surprise, surprise, there weren’t. I was, however, quite chuffed to see Chad Berger at the Cooper Tires booth with Austin Meier, since this boded well for the bull power at the event. Plus, he cheerfully stuck a Cooper Tires sticker on my hat, because you have to have a sponsor, apparently.

There was then a delightful interlude where we couldn’t get a day sheet for any price. The people at the merchandise booth said that the ushers had them, the ushers said they’d run out. I managed to get two from a nice man at the help desk, but he said not to tell anyone where I got them since he didn’t have very many; I ended up giving one of the copies to the people in front of me, who also didn’t get any when they arrived. I don’t understand this. How do you not have enough day sheets? Don’t they know how many tickets have been sold? Couldn't they print that many and a few more for day-of ticket sales?

Even if they don’t want to risk over-printing a lot of color day sheets, is it really too much to ask to have some black and white photocopies around? I find the day sheets extremely helpful as far as cataloging my photos, not to mention that it is invaluable when the in-arena announcers fail to mention the name of a bull. Why is getting a simple program to go along with your ticket such a fiasco each time?

Speaking of announcer failures, there was a moment with the Wrangler Best-Dressed Fan of the Night that made me roll my eyes. The fan was a little boy (of course), who got the whole “girlfriend” spiel from Flint. Somewhere in here, the kid revealed that he had four cats, all of which were named after bull riders (notably, one was named Skeeter). One of the in-arena announcers busted out with, “Get that boy a dog!” and then they all went on about that for a bit (of course the dog had to be named Flint). Really? What are we talking about here? Were they implying that cats are for girls and dogs are for boys? I know they have to pass the time somehow, but a little thought before speaking into a microphone might be nice.

And, I suppose while we are on the topic of things that annoyed me at the event, the Stanley Stud Finder has not gotten any more tasteful since I saw it first at the World Finals in 2010 (and this is setting aside the fact that Stanley’s definition of a “stud” definitely diverges from mine). The ad with Douglas Duncan, Adriano Moraes, Guilherme Marchi, et al., is somewhat amusing, because it is tongue-in cheek (plus we get a classic Adriano eye roll).

But listen up, geniuses over at Stanley and the PBR: I am a woman. I use tools shocking, I know. I just bought a house that was a foreclosure, and it has lots of deferred maintenance. Out of PBR loyalty (since very few PBR sponsors are aimed at my demographic so I don't have the opportunity very often), unless there was a huge price difference, I have been purchasing Stanley and DeWalt brands, but this Stud Finder nonsense is not encouraging me to continue. Newsflash! Women use screwdrivers, glass scrapers, needle-nosed pliers, and even power drills, and to have the in-arena announcers sound off about how this promotion is for men only, and women “can help” is just condescending. It's not that I don't get the whole "stud finder" gag and why they do it the way they do, but it's really not my favorite.

Maybe I was already touchy, since being obliged to watch the livestream video of events on the live event center if I want to see half the events at all means that I am forced to see all the in-arena interactions; these sometimes are amusing but other times, not so much. The other week, a woman won the “shooting rubber-tipped arrows at plastic buck” contest, and there was all sorts of crowing about how the losing man needed to turn in his hunting card because he got beaten by a girl. Must we go there? I think the plastic bow I used at summer camp when I was 9 was harder to draw than the ones used in this contest, and shooting fake arrows at a plastic buck is hardly an activity that gives men a huge advantage. I might be being especially humorless about all this, but watching the LEC means that I am hearing this stuff all the time and it’s wearing me down—Craig Hummer comes out with some doozies, but usually they aren’t of this nature. At least this time we were spared any comments about Mesa Pate being, dear heavens, A GIRL.

In Sacramento, we were subjected to the plastic buck, but we weren’t subjected to jousting (probably because the arena is so small), so I guess there’s that. Also, being there live meant that we weren’t assaulted with “Get Off on the Pain” or the yelling of R. Lee Ermey as in the past. And hurrah, the cheesy voice-over woman is gone, although the “Warning, warning!” still remains. At least we have the flaming bull heads to console us. The seats were decent and for once, the audience around me was great, except for the lady a few rows down and over who felt the need to whirl a towel above her head whenever Flint did something “funny” or

someone she liked was riding. Which would have been annoying no matter what, but as she was directly in my line of sight to the chutes, that was quite problematic.

Since I’m apparently on a tear, I’ll move on to Flint. Flint actually was pretty toned down (for him) at this event, but there was some really unfortunate interactions with the 90-year-old future Fan of the Night. Grandma Mary had a sign in front of her that said, "Cowboy Butts Make Grandma Nuts." (I think the younger female relatives sitting near her came up with that, since she didn't seem all that interested in any butts, including Flint's). Flint, of course, latched right on to this, and at one point, ended up doing some horrifying lap-dance type thing for the stone-faced Grandma Mary. There are no words. The tribute might have been funky, but we can all aspire to be walking down flights of stairs to sit in the front row for bull riding when we're 90 years old!

Anyway, those quibbles aside, the positive! The National Anthem was sung in an entirely straightforward way, which I always appreciate. The bull pen, with an assist from Chad Berger and Mesa Pate, was much better than any I’ve seen in Sacramento in the past. Will James in particular was quite impressive in person. The new InvinciBull helmets are kind of freaky-looking (especially Colby Yates’ Jason face mask one), but I’m all for anything that makes the guys safer. We were mostly spared injuries, and that always makes any event better.

What didn’t make the event better was how angry Guilherme Marchi was with his weekend's performance. I’ve been following the sport for years, and I’ve rarely seen Guilherme have as poor a weekend as this, or respond so poorly to a buck off. Not that he was out of line, but it was depressing to see him struggling and frustrated. Hopefully he gets his mojo back soon.

What also did not make the event better was the epidemic of chin seaweed, lip scruff and mountain man beards. There’s nothing wrong with facial hair, but a little maintenance goes a long way, guys! And believe me, it looks just as frightening in person as it does on the TV, if not more so.

However, it was delightful to see Ryan Dirteater get back into the groove, and to see Silvano Alves in the short go, despite his “conservative” choices in the past. Only time will tell if Silvano's strategy is the right one, but he seems to think it's the right one for him, and I'm kind of tired of hearing the commentators rag on him for it.

Cord McCoy is also a revelation so far this season—I wasn’t sure he had it in him, but I knew I’d miss that smiling redhead if he was gone, so for many reasons it’s great to see him doing well. Jory Markiss, well, the strutting and skeet shooting are fine when you do amazingly well at one of your first events, but they won’t be so cute after a few events, assuming he can keep it up. It's nice to see some new blood who can run with the pack, though, and we'll see where Markiss goes from here.

Marco Eguche, our champ—how can you not like a cowboy with a cowlick who looks twelve? He seems remarkably self-possessed and since there seems to have been some questionable scoring regarding him in the past, I was more than happy to see him crowned (buckled) our champion.

Since the PBR declined to provide us any fan events, and Ford had managed to sabotage the one picture with Ryan Dirteater I'd managed to get between his many unfortunate injuries, we did stage an impromptu photo session of our own. Ryan was obliging, as always. I hope he has an injury-free year where he can really show what he can do. And as always, it was amusing to see the cowboys try to figure out how to sign stress balls and people's iPhone cases, and deal with the shrieking younger female fans and who knows what the heck else. And, Renato Nunes continues to remember me as the one who gave him the drawing, so that was gratifying.
So, while it certainly wasn't Fresno, I guess I’d have to say that while I still miss Fresno terribly, Sacramento isn’t an entirely horrible ex to get together with for one weekend. And since I've got a house to maintain now and may not be going to the Finals or other events, at least this one had a good bull pen, a decent audience, and gracious cowboys. The PBR can screw up a lot of stuff, but so far, they haven't managed to screw up my overall enjoyment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Say No to Nostalgia

Howdy, friends and neighbors! I anticipate we may enjoy a guest report on the Sacramento event a little later this week, but ever since the event in Portland, something has been eating on me, and I decided I might as well let it rip.

First off, I want you all to take note that I have not ranted about J. W. Hart in a good long while—as a matter of fact, the last time anybody at the Stockyard complained about him at any length was back in August 2009, when Sir Alexander MacKenzie commandeered the computer to demand that JDub be shown the door. So I guess maybe it's time Mr. Hart took a bow on his way to the woodshed, because that's where I'm taking him.

I am absolutely sick to death of hearing JDub insist that the guys whom he competed against who are still on the PBR tour can ride as well or better this second than the cowboys who are currently at the top of the heap. I will grant you that Chris Shivers has shown us some great stuff so far this season, but seriously—Sean Willingham? Isn't that the dude that JDub himself ripped a new one last season because he couldn't ride a stick horse? Mike Lee? Really? Yeah, he's ridden a few this year, but does anybody with two eyes and any sense at all really believe that Mike is riding as well as Silvano or Valdiron?

And for damned sure I don't want to hear one more word about Brendan Clark or Ross Coleman or any of the others who have either been cut or have finally come to their senses and retired. It's embarrassing enough that those guys are being trotted out to drive the Ford F-150 around in those lovely infomercials we are treated to each week. Some newer fans probably have never even HEARD of half the guys JDub keeps praising to the skies. For their sakes and ours, John—give it a rest.

Of course, JDub isn't the only such sinner—his best bud Justin McBride is at least as guilty. Say what you will about how crazy Ty Murray makes me with his endless bull riding clinics during the broadcasts, but he, at least, seems to be looking at the current field and assessing their riding reasonably well.

It all comes down to this—nostalgia is a useless exercise for a sport that is scrambling, at this point, to hold its own, let alone bring in new fans. New riders come onto the PBR tour all the time, sometimes from one week to the next, as witness the astonishing performance in Sacramento of young Mr. Marco Eguche.

Those who are running the PBR need to look forward, not backward, on every single front—I have a strong suspicion that this mess with the broadcasts is a perfect example of the boss dogs not paying attention to something that in hindsight was perfectly obvious—and they would do well to advise those who are the public faces of the operation to do likewise.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shannon Concludes!

Finally, I offer up a few observations.


-Every year, his show gets smaller and smaller. I'm not sure if it's because of health issues or something else, but it's certainly nothing like it was a few years ago (it's even less than what it was right after his heart attack).

-Am I crazy, or is misogyny alive and well within the confines of the PBR? Not with the "rides like a girl" comments or the "girls can't ride at this level" comments, but has anyone ever been to an event where Flint's fan of the night has been a woman? Or has the best dressed award ever gone to a little girl wearing wranglers, a button-up shirt, and cowboy hat? Because I have yet to witness that. Oh, and while I'm discussing it: I wouldn't be surprised if one day, the Rock Star girl showed up in body paint just to see how long it would take people to notice. And, of course, the Jack Daniels girls were back, although this year, they were wearing flat cowboy boots. Yet, they still teetered on the dirt. Really, girls--heel, toe, heel, toe....I've been on that dirt in boots, it's not that hard to walk on.

-On the up side, Flint did make one remark that I had to pass on: He said that he really appreciated Valdiron's honesty. That when he asked other riders if they are okay, he gets, "Yeah, I'm fine," but when he asks Valdiron, he gets "No." I like the honesty, too.

The rides

Not much to comment on here, really, except for these three things.

-Astroid is amazing to see in person!

-Renato got hit so hard, I was sure he'd be unconscious, but he got up and walked away. What a tough guy!

-As exciting as Guilherme's rides and wins were, Justin Koon has my vote for the ride of Sunday night. I didn't even need to see it up close and on replay via the tv. It was that incredible watching how he just stuck to it, hung on, and worked hard for that buzzer.

Fans and riders

It's always interesting for me to sit back and watch the fans, as well as riders' reactions to them. This year, while the kids were getting autographs, I figured I had every one I really cared to have this time around, so I just sat and listened. There were the typical reactions from both, but while watching Ryan Dirteater both nights, taking a lot of time with everyone who wanted to talk to him (and there were a lot), I reflected on just how patient they have to be and how I don't blame some of them for not really wanting to deal with it (although I do appreciate the ones who suck it up and do). For Ryan, I wondered how especially uncomfortable the moments are, like on the dirt Saturday night when one male fan was taking a picture of his girlfriend with Ryan and, attempting a joke, said awkwardly, "Just keep your hands to yourself." Sheesh! Poor Ryan! I'm sure some riders can handle that well, but to say it to Ryan? Talk about not knowing your audience.

Then we got a big eye-rolling kick out of the two girls who, with almost every rider who passed by, would say "Wait! Are you married? No? You're cute, how old are you?", and then would hand them their phone numbers. Boy, did that give us something to talk to the kids about on the way home! Some of the riders ate it up, of course, but others didn't seem to care.

So, with my live events out of the way for the year, I find myself wondering how I'm going to approach next year. Should I bother with the fan club membership again? Should we save money and try for the chute seats? Oh, we'll go—it's fun and a tradition now, but I am mulling over a few things. Until then, I'm looking forward to seeing just who clenches the victory this year.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shannon Speaks!

Folks, The Stockyard Queen is proud to present the first of two installments of the Divine Shannon's report on the Anaheim Invitational last weekend. Next post will be up tomorrow morning, so drop back to check out the rest of her observations!

Just When You Start Thinking, "You've Seen One Show, You've Seen 'Em All. . . ."

After we spent a ridiculous $645 on six tickets, our weekend arrangements were this: Date night for me and my husband at Saturday's round, then a family day for Sunday's round.

Rick and I arrived in Anaheim early so we could enjoy a nice dinner before heading to the arena, because if we were going to spend $50 or more on food, it was going to be a good meal with waiter/waitress service. We figured since there is a nice variety of restaurants right across the street from the host hotel, we might as well park there, venture through the lobby, and out the front door. Before we even parked the car, we saw what appeared to be the cab of a trailer. It was really cool. We parked by it for a closer look just as Rocky McDonald stepped around to the driver's side. We commented on the truck and asked how many miles to the gallon it got. When he said, "12," it hit home just how much it costs in gas alone to haul bulls to an event. After talking to him for a minute, we were on our way. (If I may be allowed a bit of fan-girliness here: His eyes are so dreamy!!)

We chose Outback Steakhouse and were pretty much glued to the TV sets over the bar where one hell of a play off game was being played between the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints. They still had some time left when we walked back through the lobby of the hotel and, since the lobby TV was on that game, we joined a few fans standing in front of it. Within minutes of us stopping, Colby Yates and Harve Stewart (fellow Saints fans) strolled up and began watching it with us. So engaged in the game was Colby that, when the Saints pulled ahead with 1:30 minutes remaining, he asked if his cab driver could wait. We had a nice chat with both guys (and a few quick comments with Guilherme when he passed by), until the game was over. The 49ers pulled out a TD with only nine seconds left, eliciting some groans among the two of us and Colby, although we did agree that it was a great game.

With a few more minutes left, I sat down on that famous lobby couch while Rick stepped away for a moment, and who should appear but Robson Palermo! I was very confused at first, looking at him blankly, then finally shaking myself out of the fog, saying "Robson?" He nodded, then walked over and sat down. We had a great chat about his daughter, whom he obviously adores, his desire to wait until he's fully recuperated to return, no matter how hard it is to sit around, and McKennon's trip to Brazil. (Apparently, McKennon still gets dizzy spells and is having a hard time with his left side. However, he is not only very determined, but was also extremely helpful on the ranches in Brazil.) Robson had to leave a few minutes after Rick got back, and then we were on our way.

The first thing we noticed while walking along the concourse is the lack of giveaways this year. There didn't seem to be quite as many booths up and, of those that were, they weren't really giving away anything except fliers. Ariat still had the "win a pair of boots" contest and Rock Star was giving out hats and samples of their drinks, but beyond that, there wasn't much happening. (Rock Star is very good, btw. At 10 calories each, I'll be picking up a lemonade can whenever I'm exhausted and have no time for a nap!) Also, the "This flight is sponsored by" announcements have stopped, nor was there a big Armed Forces spectacle in the beginning of the show. I'm not exactly sure what to make of this--hard economic times? Is there some sort of shake-up in behind the scenes? Hmm....

Anyway, we met one of our PBR Fan Club friends and her husband, who mentioned that they might be able to get us up to join them for a few flights in the front row of the chute seats. We thanked her and moved to seats we paid for, and lo and behold, just a few minutes later, she texted me with "Meet us at ground level, section 224 NOW!" OMG--she got us in! We would have been grateful for just a flight or two, but were told by a very nice PBR employee that we could stay for the first five flights, but had to make our way back before the short round. Wow.

Wow, wow, wow. From the moment the event started, time stopped. Flint barely existed (although, part of that, which is the only complaint I have about the front row chute seats, is that the sound from up there sucked). I didn't even register most of the scores and at times whether or not someone rode or was bucked off. The activity, the explosiveness of the bulls coming out of the just drew me into another world. The seats are very expensive and something I wouldn't do more than once, and that would only be if I was sure I could spare the money, but, imo, worth it. Now, I would NEVER pay for the second row. I heard complaints all night that you couldn't see the rides on the opposite side from where you were sitting, but we saw it all from the front row seats. We were very grateful for chance to experience it. However, the one thing I did not need to experience was just how dirty it could get. One bull sent some...atmosphere...flying and hit Skeeter right in the side of the face. He was obviously a bit grossed out, but seemed to handle it well. I guess if you're going to do this for a living, you have to ready for anything. Blech.

The night ended with a really disorganized trip down to the dirt. It's really not too exciting anymore since I've met most of the riders already, but since I paid for it, I was going to do it. After that, we met with the friends who got us into the seats, and then left for home.

Sunday, family day for us, brought much of the same, though, without the special surprise of chute seats. Still our seats were fantastic and we all had a great time. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened, except for a comment or two from the woman sitting next to me. It was her first BFTS event and she had won All Access tickets. She wasn't impressed. She said there were supposed to be riders on the tour, but none of them showed up and the food was so spicy she couldn't eat it, except for the soft pretzels. This is good to know in case I find myself looking at those tickets for next year.

Tomorrow, I will offer up some general observations about the event. Do come back and see us!

Losing My Heart Again

We will proceed apace to the Divine Shannon's report on the Anaheim Invitational last weekend, but before we do, I want to draw your attention, please, to two stellar performers at that event.

As is his custom, that fine and divine bovine Charlie Bullware unloaded Ben Jones almost before Ben could take a seat, and then in his typical business-like fashion went looking for the out gate. Charlie is one of the rankest and most consistently overlooked bulls on the PBR tour. He has a 85.11% lifetime buck-off average, an average buck-off time of 4.54, and his record just keeps improving. He has been ridden just SEVEN TIMES since 2009, and if his debut performance in 2012 is any indication, he will keep laying the cowboys low for as long as he's bucking. I have a hunch that if Justin McKee had been in the house on Sunday, he might have said something about Charlie's contribution to the sport thus far.

The other is newcomer Grey Feathers, who had no use for Mike Lee and let that young upstart know about it almost instantly. He's so new to the tour that he isn't even listed on the PBR website--although now that I think about it, maybe that's no surprise.

And speaking of that, it's a sorry situation when a girl has to go a bull's Facebook page to actually get a look at him. But we have learned to our sorrow that if there's one thing you can always count on, it's that the PBR website will be baffling, awkward, and, when you finally get where you want to go, somewhere between adequate and useless. In Charlie's case, calling it "adequate" isn't even an option.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Well, Isn't That Special?

First up, on the off chance that you haven't seen it already, here's the link an article that ran in People magazine last week about the PBR.

I thought you might particularly enjoy reading it (possibly for the second or third time) because it now appears that there will be NO broadcast of the PBR event in Anaheim on CBS Sports until Sunday. I've checked both the PBR website and my local listings, and that is the only conclusion I can draw.

Which brings me to the point of this post—I thought the move to CBS Sports was supposed to be big leap forward for the sport, but now I'm not so sure. First off, the coverage of the event started half an hour late last Saturday night because you can never depend on basketball players to get the game over within the allotted time, and now it is looking like we are going to be endlessly jerked around from one weekend to the next, trying to figure out where to tune in and when.

All this makes me wonder why the PBR forsook Versus in the first place. I sort of doubt that they are going to herd a whole bunch of new fans into the fold with this late-Saturday-night crap, although of course those of us in the western time zones won't fare as badly as our comrades on the East Coast or even the Midwest. I guess they can always hope that some rednecks will have passed out drunk on the couch in the early evening and will awaken to find that their basketball game is over, but hey! We see guys climbing on the backs of bulls! Must still be feeling that cheap tequila!

And for those of you who managed to watch the Friday night event last week on YouTube, I am truly happy for you, but I will not be joining you. I'm sure it's all because I tried to watch it on my laptop, but all I succeeded in doing was getting a migraine. I refuse to consider watching on my PC—I work on the damned thing about 60 hours a week, I have to work until 6 p.m. on Friday nights, and I am not going to sit in front of the computer for another second past that hour, thank you very much, not even for the PBR.

We are not starting off well, folks. First we have all this hassle with actually managing to SEE the events, and then when we do manage to see it—ye Gods and little fishes, Dakota Beck got smacked in the face and suffered a "through and through" laceration of his cheek, and then on Saturday night, what a horrible wreck Pistol Robinson got into. In hindsight, J.B. Mauney's recorded comment that his dad always told him to get up and walk out of the arena "unless you have two broken legs" seems like the worst possible coincidence, unless you, like Freud, believe there are no coincidences, and no accidents, either. If Freud had followed professional bull riding, he might have rethought that position some.

I suppose we should be grateful that it only took the PBR about four days to report that Pistol had undergone not one, but two, surgeries, that when he finally gets up, he'll be walking around on titanium rods and a double handful of screws in both legs, and that the surgeon reported that putting Pistol's left leg back together was like reassembling a jigsaw puzzle. I won't be the least bit surprised, though, if that's the last we hear about Pistol for at least a year, since, needless to say, he's out for the season.

So hightail it on over to the People website, folks, and get your (admittedly weakass) PBR fix for the next three days! That is, of course, unless you are braver than I am and are willing to wrestle with the new and improved LEC, where, as far as I can see, you can't see anything beyond the last five rides. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

And before I forget: Bring back Justin McKee!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Time to Ride

Howdy, friends and neighbors! We are swabbing out the Stockyard, preparatory to a great year of bull riding. It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life—you get the picture?

Considering everything we endured last season, it's a damned miracle I'm ready for the whole wonderful pageant to start all over again. We've had a bull doping scandal, we've had life-threatening injuries, we've had interviews by commentators and remarks by bull riders that were so dumb that we were ourselves struck dumb trying to figure out which end of the bull rope to pull on.

Right after the PBR finals, one of my loyal readers sent me a note, asking if I hadn't posted anything about the event because 1) I was too busy or 2) something had upset me and I was too pissed off about it to write yet. The answer, fortunately, was 1)—the end of the academic year is always a busy time for me, and this year seemed even more insane than usual.

Equally as fortunately, the answer was most definitely not 2). Watching the finals this year was a great experience—I could not possibly have asked for a more exciting series or a better outcome. Sure, there were at least a couple of nights when the bulls were subpar, and there were a lot of nights when the American riders were subpar, but all in all, it was a great finals.

In the interim, I have been mulling over some complaints from some of my readers that I am too prone to dwelling on the negatives about the PBR, and I have decided that 1) that's a load of bullshit and 2) I don't plan to change my ways. There's plenty to like about the PBR, but there's also plenty to gripe about, and I will never let it be said that I backed away from my obligations to help tote the load. If you want to read puffery about the PBR, there's always the PBR website. I'm sure they'll be happy to have you over there.

Which brings me to the point of this meandering post: The good, the bad, and the "haven't they learned a thing"? To wit:

1. We are starting a new season WITHOUT JUSTIN MCKEE, which is just a fucking atrocity. I have thought about this state of affairs a lot over the past year, and I concluded that the reason McKee got bounced was David Neal's fundamental ignorance about the sport—he apparently didn't get that half of the bull riding equation is the bull. We need Justin McKee back, if he'll have us. The boys in the booth just have not been able to dish out the same level of information about the bulls that Justin had at his fingertips. I do not intend to shut up about this just because a year has gone by.

2. We must pray to whatever gods we believe in that Neal has at least learned one singular fact about bull riding: From one week to the next, you can't count on any rider being in the mix. How can we forget Neal's rhapsodizing about how wonderful Brendon Clark's accent was and how he planned to involve him in the production? And the long-ass intro with Gary Allen wailing as pictures of the riders flashed before our eyes? Fast forward to the end of the season: Brendon Clark was no longer even on the tour, and a whole bunch of those guys who had been lauded to the skies at the beginning of the season were either barely hanging on, or were injured. I suppose it might have been an honest mistake—after all, the worst injuries you can suffer playing poker are probably a paper cut and/or being over-served—but on the other hand, nobody should start a new gig without doing due diligence. I see no evidence that Neal has done that to this date.

3. We are starting a new season on CBS Sports. I will be interested to see whether that move will bring in new fans to any degree, or whether we are going to learn, once and for all, that bull riding is in fact a niche sport loved only by redneck refugees from NASCAR and a handful of liberal women, which is where Turn Him Out! comes in.

4. We are finally rid of Erin Whosis, and I for one hope she didn't let the screen door hit her in the butt on the way out. I did my best to cut her some slack, I really did, but after I witnessed with my own eyes her stalking rudely away from Valdiron when her five-second standup with him in Billings was over, I was so done. And the woman's boots looked like shit, too.

5. We are starting off yet another season with the PBR PR department doing its utmost to 1) confuse us totally or 2) keep us completely in the dark. The press release about the move to CBS Sports might as well have been written in Sanskrit for all the information it imparted. We did, of course, learn that the sponsors are the real reason there even IS a PBR, which can't be news to anybody who attended a live event this past season.

What we didn't learn was that Peter Farley was very seriously hurt in Australia sometime around Christmas—it took Kris DiLorenzo posting about it on her fine blog to get the word out. I guess we should be grateful that three days after she posted, the PBR added one tiny clause to its description of Farley, and I quote: "Farley, who is recovering from a practice-pen injury in Australia, started off 2011 with back-to-back Touring Pro Division event wins in Denver and Pueblo, Colo., in January, and then picked up a third lower-level win in Winston-Salem, N.C." You can always count on the PBR to not report on stuff that people might actually want to hear about. The organization's handling of the bull-doping mess was pretty much a classic example of its head-in-the-sand approach.

6. We are also starting off without Bushwhacker, who was scheduled to undergo surgery today to repair a fracture in his back right leg. Wait—let me get this straight: Pete Farley was so badly hurt that he was put into a medically induced coma, according to Dustin Elliot, but there's not one word about that on the PBR's website. On the other hand, this bull, whom I absolutely love, got an entire feature to himself. It's certainly not that I don't want to hear about injuries to the animal athletes—it's just that Pete Farley, and for that matter McKennon Wimberley, deserved equal time. Boys, pay attention—if you get hurt riding bulls on the PBR tour, it's pretty much out of sight, out of mind.

After all that, I'm sure some of you are wondering why I'm bothering to tune in next weekend. Surely you know the answer: It's the bulls, stupid. Oh, yes, and the Brazilians, who act like professionals in all seasons.

Bring it on, sez I. Open the damned gate.