Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Went to a Portuguese Bullfight and All I Got Was This Lousy Picture of Jerry Springer*

*Also I got a T-shirt.

First of all, congratulations to everyone who ventured a guess as to the identity of the mysterious styrofoam whatzit (MSW) pictured in the previous entry. They were all very well-constructed responses, and I would have said any one of them could be correct, if I didn't already know that the object in question was Stephen Hawking's superintelligent function-graphing toilet seat cover.

On to new business. This past Saturday, C-Baby and I headed into the Central Valley for the finale of the thankfully little-known Portuguese "bloodless" bullfighting season. (I place "bloodless" in quotes because there is often bleeding, but not by the bull. In fact, unlike Spanish bullfighting, which seems sadistic to me, Portuguese bullfighting is in practice a mainly masochistic event. For a slideshow of one of last year's fights with explanatory commentary, click here.)

We were able to see a pretty decent variety of thrills and spills--including a particularly pesky bull which tossed two matadors within a minute, one of whom came back to finish strong after crashing to the dirt in a position the human body should never be in--along with the pickled beans, dolled-up ranchers' wives in heels, plethora of glow-in-the-dark virgin statues and other touches which contribute to the dusty appeal of the event.

However, unlike every other bullfight we've attended in the past, a gradual crescendo of murmurs in Portuguese and English hinted at something big taking place at the end of the event--and lo and behold, after the sixth and final bull headed out of the ring after his day in court, a chant which had been bubbling below the surface finally broke into a full roar: "Jer-ry!Jer-" and so on.

Anyway, the gist of the thing was that Springer--who you may have heard of from his stint as mayor of Cincinnati--was going to be performing the Paso Doble on that wonderful masses-opiate Dancing With the Stars, and needed to shoot some scenes to pump up his bullfighting cred.

According to the show's website, "the Paso Doble ... should create a Spanish Bull Fighting atmosphere. The Paso Doble is the dance for the Man, which allows him to fill the 'Space' with strong three-dimensional shapes and movements danced with 'Pride and Dignity.'" In this case, Springer demonstrated this "pride and dignity" by strolling triumphantly into the ring (where only minutes before teams of Portuguese-Americans had risked life and gonad jumping on giant enraged animals) while children were prodded to throw roses at his feet, twice. (In his defense, Jerry conceded that "they wanted me to shoot something here to make it look like I know something about bullfighting.")

The website continues: "The woman's role varies depending on the intepretation of the dance... [she] can take the role of the matador's cape, the bull or even the matador at different times within the dance." This was demonstrated by the painted blonde hussy who serves as Jerry's dance partner holding her index fingers to her head and tromping around like a bull. It wasn't nearly as charming as it sounds, which is not very charming. In fact, it was even less charming than that.

The high point [spoiler alert, for those losers who watch the show] was when the producers convinced Springer that they were about to release a bull, sending him cowering for the exit--only to send out a tiny calf (generating a chorus of "awwww"s), which seemed terrified of the blonde hussy, who kept prodding the poor creature in an attempt to get it to "charge." We took that mildly-entertaining moment as our cue to split, which was probably best because I'm sure they recreated the hilarious surprise multiple times to get the right shot.

Anyway, I hope they don't make a huge deal out of it on the show, because then everybody will find out about the bullfights and they'll become really popular and then be outlawed after Pam Anderson chains herself to the bullring and is accidentally gored by an escaped bull, popping her left implant.

Just remember: I was into watching bullfights before it was cool.