The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is coming to town this week, the sign that spring can't be far behind.
We've promised ourselves for weeks that we would never, ever succumb to the "25 Random Things" meme, or phenomenon, or whatever it is, but we have received in the mail a notice from the federal government that all media outlets must publish at least one such list (Damn you Obama!!)
So here are 25 Random Facts About the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo:
1. It's not only a livestock show, it's a rodeo.
2. Horses are involved. Also, other kinds of livestock.
3. PETA doesn't like it much.
4. The rodeo people don't like PETA much.
5. Dominique de Menil won the first celebrity goat-milking contest back in 1965.
6. She narrowly defeated UN Ambassador Ralph Bunche.
7. Our fact-checking department is still trying to verify Numbers 5 & 6.
8. What with the economy for media outlets these days, fact-checking departments ain't what they used to be.
9. Which is why we're holding off on proposed Random Fact Number Nine: Shortly after his rodeo appearance, Elvis Presley eschewed hookers and instead had sexual congress with a very fetching prize sheep.
10. We do know for a fact, because we heard it straight from Rodeo impresario Leroy Shaffer, that Sonny & Cher came within inches of breaking up on stage during their rodeo performance.
11. If they had, it perhaps would not have been the greatest calamity ever to strike the American public.
12. You would never know it from the media coverage of the rodeo, but concession stands on the Midway sell some weird fried stuff.
13. Mayor Bill White actually pronounces the event "the ro-day-o" and has to be trained each February on the proper version.
14. Again, Number 13 might need some additional sourcing.
15. It's a shame the Hideout won't be in the Astrodome this year, because nothing is more exciting than a couple hundred people spread out across the vast spaces of the Dome, as the music wafts echo-ey into the far reaches of the dusty, dungy venue.
16. Contrary to popular belief, Mendelssohn did not compose a work called "Etude to the Houston Rodeo, In C."
17. We once saw Cheap Trick play at the rodeo. It was very, very difficult not to think of Spinal Tap. We half-expected Rick Neilsen to break into "Jazz Odyssey."
18. Perhaps the rodeo's worst choice of performer: Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam in 1990. The bloom was off what little rose they had by then.
19. Jimmy Buffett hated his time on stage at the rodeo in 1988 -- too far away from the fans, and in the round. He never appeared again.
20. Since 1988, it has been safe to attend the rodeo without the chance of being surrounded by old guys in Hawaiian shirts wearing Mardi Gras beads and carrying oversized margaritas as they desperately try to show everyone how crazy and off-the-wall they are.
21. Yo-Yo Ma has never played the rodeo. Neither has Iggy Pop.
22. All those prize cows lovingly raised by towheaded youngsters for the big contest? Someone's dinner within a couple of weeks.
23. In 1997, a threatened strike by the fast-talking-people-who-sell-you-crap-you-don't-need threatened to shut down the rodeo. Luckily for all the people who still had a few spare inches in their closet for stuff they never use, the strike was averted.
24. We're still checking on Number 23, but it sounds right to us.
25. The HLS&R is the largest rodeo in southern Harris County.
-- Richard Connelly
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