Monday, March 29, 2010

Deja Vidiot: New March Madness mantra: Go Bulls!

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Here’s a March no-brainer: if you need to find the Vidiot, check the nearest TV or computer screen. I’m a perennial victim of March Madness for a lot of reasons: 65 single-elimination games playing out over two weeks provides exciting athletic drama; picking more of the correct outcomes of these games than my family, friends and coworkers is exceptionally rewarding; and when the tournament is over, my sports watching essentially dies until football season is resurrected, Phoenix-like, in the fall. But this year, my basketball bacchanalia was preempted by a business trip to Spain.

So, rather than watching basketball, I tuned into local TV while abroad. Mixed in with Spanish dubs of The Golden Girls and Nickelodeon cartoons, were the soccer matches of Spanish teams like FC Barcelona. Simultaneously, the highlight and lowlight of anything I viewed on the trip, however, was catching just a few minutes of the famous Spanish bullfights—an experience that so messed with my perception of sport that I spiraled into literal March Madness on the spot.

Apologies for the graphic nature of this picture, but as you can see, they dont censor the fights on Spanish TV.
  • Apologies for the graphic nature of this picture, but as you can see, they don't censor the fights on Spanish TV.
Seeing the matadors in their flashy regalia—taunting, dodging, posturing—I somehow finally understood Hemingway’s obsession with the pastime, and sat in front of my TV transfixed. Was this really being broadcast on television? And would the bloody conclusion of the match really play out the way I’d heard it does? I grabbed my camera and trained it on the TV, sitting as still as possible, shooting gobs of stills and video.

Sure enough, at the end of the match, the matador drew his sword and plunged it into the neck of the bull. But the behemoth didn’t topple like I expected. It wobbled, but stood its ground. So the matador stabbed again. And again. And, finally, the mighty beast’s legs buckled and it fell to the dirt, woozily bobbing its head.

Mortified but unable to look away, a knife was drawn and pounded, as if it were a nail on a backyard fence, into the bull’s head to finally immobilize him. I video recorded this last step even as my jaw hung open. (The clip below is not of this period, but of a more uplifting moment when the matador’s sword caromed off the bull’s neck and for a moment I thought Taurus might actually have his revenge.)

When next March rolls around and I’m yet again comfortably nestled in front of a TV, I shan’t look back on this month as the time I missed out March Madness. In fact, for all intents and purposes, this was a much madder March than any I’ve experienced before. One thing’s for sure, though; now that I’ve seen what happens to them if they lose, there’s one chant I’m certain I’ll subscribe to forevermore: Go Bulls!

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