Rocks Off at the Reliant Rodeo Round-Up

Video and photos by John Seaborn Gray; music by Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers
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Monday afternoon, Rocks Off headed down to Reliant Park to participate in the annual Reliant Rodeo Round-Up, a competition between local media "personalities" - Rocks Off supposes that's an appropriate term, though some who know him might claim otherwise - and their partners from area nonprofit agencies to raise money for charity.

Rocks Off's partner was HISD's Dee Puls, our charity was the fine arts and music program at Kashmere High School and our objective was to avenge our result in last year's Round-Up, when we finished dead last. We started strong, but Rocks Off choked in the final event, roping a "calf" that was actually a sawhorse with a head stuck on it. (Like many things, it turns out left-handers are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to tossing a lasso.)

Reliant Energy changed this year's events to reflect its efforts to present a greener face to the public, swapping out scarecrow-dressing and a stick-horse barrel race for pedaling a stationary bike (scores were measured in kilowatt-hours generated) and playing a Defender-like video game where your vacuum-cleaner avatar swoops through a house turning off lights and appliances while avoiding exposed electrical outlets.

Nevertheless, the first event was - wouldn't you know it - roping again. This time the "steer" was a giant compact flourescent light bulb with some horns stuck on top. Things did not look good when Rocks Off had a hard time even getting his lasso uncoiled during the practice throws, and once again some difficulty getting the rope around the horns. But, it turned out, not as much as some of the other media folks - some of whom threw their lassos from virtually on top of the light bulb; these television people can be very competitive - and Rocks Off and Puls went into the new events in a very respectable sixth place out of nine.

Sadly, neither Puls' pedaling or Rocks Off's computer-game skills (it's been a long time since he's played anything besides Grand Theft Auto IV, let alone anything using the arrow keys on a PC as the controls) were quite enough to improve our standing, and we wound up finishing eighth. Still, we accomplished our goal of not finishing dead last, and raised $500 in consolation money for Kashmere, so it was more than worth the trip. We can also raise $2,500 more if we win the "hard-luck prize," which sounds about right. Go to www.reliantpowerzone.com to vote. And vote often, por favor.

Congratulations to Melissa Wilson of Channel 26, and tough luck to Lauren Freeman of Channel 2. Rocks Off will see you next year - and if our upward trend continues, it's only eight more years before we win the whole thing. 

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