Friday, November 23, 2001, Houston, TX:
The McChump Party, much like Arlo Guthrie, had experienced a "Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat" the day before, highlighted by a sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and pecan crust, tres yummy!, but today was a day for important stuff.
Stop one, SHRP in the morning, for some licensing activity, hoss visitin', and a fine, fine monster breakfast in the track cafe for a mere $4.75 (includes coffee). Some say this track cafe is not up to par, but to them I say, pish posh. Giant plate of chow with coffee, $4.75, and you're whining?
Stop two, an eastern suburb of Houston, for a visit to the dreadnought battleship USS Texas, and a visit to the San Jacinto battlefield, where the near-mutinous Texian troops under their general Sam Houston finally forced their reluctant commander to stand and fight against a small contingent of the Mexican army under "Napoleon of the West" Santa Anna, routed them from the battlefield in a few minutes, and then proceeded to kill a whole bunch of them over the next few hours by shooting them in the back while they tried to escape swimming a marshy lake. Thus was won Texas' independence and fame everlasting.
The entire experience, USS Texas and San Jacinto battlefield, was heightened by being located smack dab in the middle of the biggest, ugliest, and stinkiest tank farm and oil refinery complex you ever saw in your life.
Evening, however, brought on Stop Three, and post time at Sam Houston Race Park. Tonight was the first night of two "Budweiser Clydesdale" nights at SHRP, and there they were, the Budweiser Clydesdales, sequestered in a big tent with temporary stalls, right out front where you come in, while the dalmatian dogs ran wild through the complex, playing and having a good time.
All these horses had imaginative names, like "Luke", and "Dan", and some were friendly, and some were standoffish, as horses will often be. Whatever their names, they were really Really REALLY big. Monsters, to tell you the truth. I have another anecdote to pass on regarding Clydesdales: When they pass gas, it is prodigious. I left the Clydesdale tent right after that.
There was an Arabian race in the 1st, and then some thoroughbred races, and I wasn't winning so much money, but then, after the 5th, it was time for the Clydesdales.
Those of you who haven't been at SHRP should know that thay they have an excellent sound system, and usually play C & W tunes between races, majorly irritating. Tonight they were playing Christmas tunes, which was merely minorly irritating.
But in terms of Clydesdale theme music, for some reason they decided they needed to turn the PA volume up to "11", and that venerable classic "When you say Bud you've said it all" started blasting out at ear-numbing volume.
"Here comes the King here comes the Big Number One!"
The Clydesdales, pulling the Bud wagon, with Dalmations aboard, started down the track.
"blah blah de blah blah blah it's second to none!"
The Clydesdales started doing some draft horse tricks, like turning a tight turn, and backing up, and stuff like that. Gee. Haw.
"blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah!"
The announcer, at least I think it was the announcer, was attempting to tell us something about the Clydesdales, but what it was no one could tell, as the theme song was still turned up to "11", and all you could hear was a faint and pathetic mumble from the announcer going on under 1000 repetitions of the jingle, like something from a Firesign Theatre album.
"When you say Bud you've said it all!"
Yes, you have. You really have.
The Clydesdales trotted off. The jingle would be ringing in my ears and humming from my lips for days. I ran right in and bought a Shiner Bock.
Saturday, November 24, 2001, Huntsville, TX:
There's something real neat along I-45 between Dallas and Houston, and what it is is a giant white statue of Sam Houston, standing right next to the road. The novelty of endless humming of the Budweiser jingle was wearing off for the McChump Party by this point, so it was agreed to stop off at the statue and "Stand with Sam" awhile, get some fresh air, and listen to something besides The Jingle for a few minutes, even if that something was simply the sound of highway traffic zooming by on I-45.
Up close, the statue is pretty cool, but for some reason giant white statues attract bugs like nothing else, and Sam Houston was revealed to be crawling with bugs. Somewhat of a downer to see one of the great heroes of Texas crawling with bugs.
Sunday, November 25, 2001, Lone Star Park, Grande Prairie, TX:
Okay, it was the Quarter Horse meet, but it was the only live racing in town, and a special Sunday afternoon program at that, to make up for the Thursday night card that had been missed due to it being Thanksgiving. A decent enough day, too, if a bit windy, and not too bad of a crowd, though the QH meet doesn't seem to attract the folks like the thoroughbred meet does.
Things were going along just fine, with quarter horses running, and the McChump Party betting on them, sometimes even winning, and the "Dirtiest Car in the Parking Lot" competition came and went on schedule, until suddenly the orderly and unventful flow of a night the horse races was interrupted by one of those animated "race" type commercials came up on the jumbotron. You know the type of thing I am talking about - those commercials for some sponsor where three animated pizza characters fly though the air over the city of Chicago in a race to home plate at Comiskey Park, and the crowd goes wild cheering for Sausage, Cheese (a born loser), or my favorite Pepperoni. Or maybe three animated bottles of some bottled water named, oh for instance, L'il Thirsty, Alan Aqua, and Anita Quencher, race down a river on innertubes to the finish line, encountering many pitfalls and lead changes along the way, and L'il Thirsty always gets stuck in that one whirlpool though you'd think after he'd been down that river every single night of the White Sox season for the past four years he might start grabbing a clue the damn thing was coming up but he never does and always paddles right into it. Anyhow, these jumbotron races are very popular with fans. Really they are.
So today Lone Star had one of these on its jumbotron, sponsored by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company of St. Louis, MO, the same fine folks who had brought us the "This goes to 11!" Bud jingle serenade just two days prior. This race thingy was a takeoff on the familiar horse race game of carnival midways, where you squirt a water gun to make your horse go. No squirt guns in this race, though - the horses were powered with beer. A bottle of Bud, one of Bud Light, and one of Michelob stood behind the starting gate.
When the gate popped open, each bottle tipped forward and started spewing a stream of golden yellow beer from their longnecks and onto the backsides of the horses in an effort to propel the valiant steeds forward. Need I say that these golden yellow streams spewing from the longnecks onto the backsides of horses looked really obscene? Probably not. It was hilarious.
Meanwhile, Michael Wrona, or a recording of Michael Wrona, called the jumbotron race as it progressed and each bottle spewed enough golden yellow beer to fill an entire case. They were spewing like a race horse. Towards the end, my horse, Michelob, was winning, while Bud Light had fallen precipitously behind and looked like a sure loser. But wait! What's this, chump? Michael Wrona, or a recording of Michael Wrona, was saying "Look out! Bud Light looks like he's getting excited!" And indeed Bud Light was. The bottle was shaking and pulsating and going wild, and suddenly tipped all the way over on its side and exploded an incredible orgasm of golden yellow beer onto the backside of its horse, propelling it into the lead and under the wire in first place. Damn that cheatin' Bud Light!
I totally lost it then in paroxyms of laughter, which somewhat dulled the pain of my jumbotron horse Michelob losing what was obviously a fixed event. That just had to be a recording of Michael Wrona - no human could announce something like that in real time with a straight face.
When you say Bud, you've said it all. Really you have.
After that, I had to go in and get a Shiner Bock, and it was damn good.