Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fresno (Once Again)

S. returned to Fresno, and has kindly agreed to tell us about her adventures this time around.

Flint "protects" Brady Simms on the shark cage
To be honest, I waited a little too long before writing this, so it may be more brief than the usual as details are escaping me by the moment.   I'll be sure to pad with a lot of photos.  Friday is also kind of a blur as I worked a half day before driving the nearly four hours to Fresno through not great traffic, checking into the hotel, and hustling over to the event.

There's nothing very new or exciting about the pre-event festivities, except the fan club now has something called PBR Passport.  You get a card that hooks up to your information, and you get it scanned at the events you attend for the chance to win prizes.  Most of the prizes seemed pretty good too, like VIP tickets to the same event next year, or $500. Unfortunately, I didn't win any of them, but at least they seemed worthwhile.  Also, they've gotten rid of the Bass Pro Shops shooting arrows at the deer practice target or the fishing thing, and now you have to guess the monetary total of the items Luke Synder is putting in his cart at Bass Pro Shops.  Amazingly, someone won this on Friday.

Silvano Alves stands alone...
Anyway, I was keen to go to the Friday event for multiple reasons.  Firstly, the PBR kept going on about testing a new chute clock, and I was very curious to see what that meant.  Secondly, it was to be the first event after ABQ where the invitees J.W. Harris and Guytin Tsosie would be competing with a 5 event invitation.  And finally, and most importantly, it would be my chance to see Bushwacker buck in person  in the 15/15.  So let's run it down:

Chute clock: I was curious but filled with trepidation about the PBR's latest foray into screwing around with the rules.  On the positive side, I think it does really help the guys to have a clear visual cue about where they are with the timing, rather than it totally being the whim of the chute judge, who might be yelling something incoherent.  However, one minute is really not a lot of time, and since the judges have "discretion" to add several more 20 second intervals, it's all just as arbitrary as before.  And while it's hard to make a direct attribution, I feel like there were a lot more nasty wrecks and hangups than I am used to seeing, and one has to wonder how much of that might be due to guys hustling to get out before the minute runs out.  So far, not a fan.  Bulls are unpredictable and both rider and bull safety need to be considered-- at the least, the initial clock time should be increased.
Horrified amusement or amused horror?

J.W. Harris and Guytin Tsosie: J.W. Harris showed he is the real deal to the PBR audience with a pretty little ride on Hot Blooded. Guytin Tsosie unfortunately did not do as well.  I suspect he got overwhelmed and was trying too hard-- he was overriding the bulls.  Thankfully he seems to have figured things out since.

Bushwacker: They actually trotted him out in the introductions, although I don't think he really appreciated it, as he spent the whole time circling around near the chutes, apparently wondering why he was there and just wanting to leave.  I think he knows his job and he knew this wasn't it.  Bushwacker is huge, by the way!  And, although we only got a few seconds of action from him as he dumped L.J. Jenkins, I was very happy to have seen him buck in person.

Kody Lostroh and Valdiron de Oliveira
At the end of the 15/15, there actually were a number of rides, but Silvano Alves was triumphant with a Silvano-of-old style ride on Rango.  He was pumped up after the ride, but it was extremely bizarre the way the PBR had a handler or two trot him up on the shark cage, where he just stood by himself, doffing his hat, until they told him to come down.  I hope that looked better on camera because it was super awkward in person.

The other notable thing about Friday's event was that Brandon Bates wasn't there, so the in-arena announcers were Clint Adkins and Matt West.  I enjoyed West's calm take on things, and his response to Flint's twerking speaks for us all.

Young guns Gage Gay and Matt Triplett
Oh, and since the entrance for the on-the-dirt fan club signing was all the way around the arena from us and we were in row B, we were unable to get on the dirt (well, maybe we could have, but it would have been after most of the cowboys went around). I guess if we'd left before Bushwacker bucked, we could have made it, but I wasn't going to do that.  It's too bad there isn't an easier way for this to play out, but I suppose there's always next time.

On Saturday, we had made plans to meet up with a fun PBR friend and enjoy the day (for some reason, this was an evening event).  After ending up in a gun store because it looked like the hipster coffee place (Clovis, what can you do?) and breakfast, we ambled to Boot Barn, because we had coupons and because there were cowboys there.  I didn't end up buying anything at Boot Barn, but I did get some photos that kind of made up for the inability to capitalize on the on-the-dirt signing the night before.  We got a nice tour of various parts of Fresno with our pal, and ended up chatting with some of the Brazilian riders at the hotel, who were kind enough to pose for a photo -- Emilio Resende seemed especially pleased by this.
Brazilian brigade

The bulls by and large were fairly decent at this event, although many were pretty squirrelly; probably bulls act up at all events but we just don't see it on TV, for obvious time saving reasons. In another not-seen-on-TV-moment, we got to experience the event itself being delayed in order to fit into airing live on CBS Sports Network. The in-arena announcers kept us up to date with overtime shenanigans of whatever we were waiting for, while Flint did his thing. 

Flint discovered that pickup man Julio Moreno's horse really didn't like him, so he spent some time taunting the poor thing.  He's lucky the horse didn't give him a swift kick.  Speaking of Flint, since I no longer pay to see the LEC stream, even though his act has not really changed, it was more bearable.  Also, Matt West gave him some new material by having attended a Miley Cyrus concert by himself.  Good for him.

Flint tempts fate
Not much terribly notable happened at the event overall , although there were a fair amount of rides.  also, Cody Lambert must have yanked Stone Sober from the Championship Round after his performance at the 15/15, since he wasn't there and Hair Trigger was.

I do hope, however, that someone told Tanner Byrne, who was so elated after his ride, the last one in the round, and who clearly thought he won, that the crowd was booing his score and that he hadn't won, not him.  He looked really confused, poor guy.  I'm sure his time will come, even if it ended up being Cody Nance's  victory this time.

Unique artwork transportation provided by...
There was one amusing little story I can tell about Saturday.  I had done a drawing for Robson Palermo, but he didn't come out either night, I assume because he was pretty battered.  I decided to ask Renato Nunes, who I had previously done a drawing for, if he could maybe take it to Robson.  He seemed pretty confused by this request, and more confused by what to do with it as he did his rounds, but he agreed to take it.  His ultimate decision was to put the drawing down the back of his jeans, which was quite an entertaining image.  It may be the only artwork transported by cowboy jeans. 

So, in conclusion, chute clock reception is mixed, Bushwacker is a plus, PBR friends are definitely a positive, and amusing cowboy moments keep us all entertained.  The recipe for another successful trip to Fresno.  Too bad I had to drive back home for four hours right after leaving the event... 

Thanks to S. for sharing her tales of Fresno!  Hopefully I managed to insert her photos in a somewhat organized fashion.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Oversharing, the Beta Version

This is what happens when you get really, really bored: A week or two ago, like a fool, I made the mistake yet again of sauntering over to to see if anything there might amuse me for a few minutes. And naturally the first thing I stumbled over was one of the ongoing series of pablum titled “The Women of the PBR,” this time featuring Dana Lee. Something about the title struck me as odd, so, like a fool, I clicked on the link, and then, as F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, the holocaust was complete.

What that ill-considered click revealed is that apparently Mike Lee is no longer married to his childhood sweetheart Jamie, about whom we learned so much in Fried Twinkies and various posts on the PBR website, including the 2008 announcement that she and Mike had become the parents of twins. Nope, this is a brand-new Mrs. Michael Lee, hailing from, of all places, New York, where she apparently met her husband in a bar during the Madison Square Garden event in 2010.

What a stunning revelation this all is! The mind boggles at its implications! Which end of this tangled rope shall we pull on first?

Well—none of them. Begging the pardon of Kurt Vonnegut, I don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut whether Mike Lee is married, divorced, remarried, a polygamist with 15 wives and 60 children, or a partner in a line marriage of 10 men and five women. I would not care if we learned that he’s gay and holds hands with other riders behind the chutes, and if that were the case, I most certainly wouldn't give a rat’s ass if he and his friend ran away together in Las Vegas this fall and got hitched at the Tunnel of Love Drive-Through Wedding Chapel in their brand-new Ford F-150 with Ecoboost.

No, what I care about is that clearly, back in the Stone Age, somebody (or several somebodies) at the PBR decided that the riders should be extolled as role models of upright behavior for all the world to see. Mike Lee has come in for more than his justified share of this shit because he is a profoundly religious man, and that is just ambrosia to the dudes at PBR headquarters—they can’t wait to talk about what a fine Christian man he is, along with all that implies.

In all sincerity, I respect the fact that Lee’s faith is central to his character. But in equal sincerity, I shouldn’t know a damned thing about his religious beliefs or a single detail about his personal life. I shouldn’t know the names of his ex-wife, or his children, or his new wife. None of that is relevant to bull riding.

Despite all protests to the contrary, professional bull riding is not a mainstream sport, and this endless nattering about the riders’ personal lives is one of the biggest reasons. You don’t see this shit in other professional sports. Just waltz on over to the National Football League’s website, and you’ll see instantly what I’m talking about. What you’ll find there are factual stories and analysis about the SPORT. That’s the way it should be.

Here's the point: When a sports organization starts incorporating information about the athletes' personal lives into the narrative that drives the sport, that organization is forever after obligated to tell EVERYTHING about their personal lives, including the embarrassing parts that make it clear that doing so just set the athletes up for failure from the beginning. 

And when that organization deliberately leaves out the embarrassing details, that action exposes the flaw at the heart of the narrative. What's even more embarrassing is the fact that the Powers That Be should have been able to look far enough down the road at the beginning to anticipate such potholes—or washed-out bridges, as the case may be.

I wish Mike and Dana Lee all the best. I hope they have a long and loving marriage, but no matter how it works out, I hope to hell never to hear another word about it from the PBR spin machine.