Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Intrepid Reporter in Ontario

Gentle Readers, the Divine Shannon has yet again rescued the Stockyard Queen from the Slough of Despond, sending me this entertaining report of her adventures in Ontario last weekend. Pull up a chair and enjoy! Thanks, Shannon!--The Stockyard Queen

Musings from Ontario

First, thank God the heat lifted for this weekend. The previous weekend and the entire week up until Thursday, the temperatures were 100+, and on Friday, it was still 91. The high on Saturday was 75 and about the same for Sunday. This was a good thing because under normal circumstances, I’m a miserable witch in the heat, but when you like to dress the part like I do, in jeans and cowboy boots, I’ve have pitied my poor husband (who went with me on Saturday) and friend (who went with me on Sunday) for having to put up with me. Fortunately, it was quite comfortable.

Speaking of dressing the part: Is it just me or is it a Southern California thing that only a handful of us dress in our best jeans and boots while others come in the usual, local, seasonal get-ups? Here that was crop pants, sandals, or something comparable. I’m aware that not everyone has cowboy boots, but crop pants? Huh? It was rather baffling to me because, I couldn’t imagine going to a bull ride dressed like that anymore than I’d go to a rock concert in my Sunday best (and I mean no offense to anyone who dresses that way—it’s just that for me, looking the part is part of the whole experience). [SQ: It’s not just you. In Tulsa, the folks who came to the events looked like they had just stopped by on their way to K-Mart. I’m talking flip-flops. Flip-flops! I’ve seen more appropriately dressed folks at tractor pulls.]

In fact, bull riding going over so well in southern CA baffles me in general more than any other place on tour except maybe NYC. It surprises me that here, just 45 miles from Hollywood, where dressage is infinitely more popular than western riding, where PETA reigns supreme, the PBR has managed to have an Anaheim stop every year so far, and, for the last two, there were two events per season. Not only that, I’ve never seen or heard of one picket sign protesting the event.
But, I digress. I entered the event looking forward to seeing it live yet again, but at the same time hoping I’d see something exciting because the California events, to me, have always been a little dull. The really rank bulls are rare here and there are many bulls that people aren’t too familiar with and always a lot of rides.

The opening video

While watching the opening video of the wrecks, I thought about you here on the blog not liking the fact that it was all wrecks all the time. While I agree that they need to mix it up with some great rides, I thought of something my brother, a bull riding and NASCAR fan, said to me when he last attended an event with me. At one point, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, he was prompted to say “It’s just like NASCAR—everyone is waiting to see a wreck.” Morbid curiosity. Sadly human and, as Flint pointed out later in the program, “That’s what sells tickets.” [SQ: As one fan famously said, “We don’t want to see anybody get killed. We just want to see somebody ALMOST get killed.”]

Thankfully, there were only a few scary moments with riders getting thrown around, or limping out, with Ryan McConnel’s slam to the ground being the one true “someone was looking out for him” moment. Someone was looking out for the bull, too. It was still fresh in my mind, as well as many others, I’m sure, that it was just last week that Code Blue’s feet failed him as well. This bull, however, seemed to recover very well, as did Ryan.

Flint moments

After so many events, Flint has stopped really amusing me because it’s usually the same thing over and over again. In fact, a couple of times during the Sunday event, while my friend (a first time PBR attendee—she had a great time) was absorbed in watching one of his usual routines, I was texting a friend of mine updates because she wasn’t where she could watch a show online. I’m surprised he didn’t call me out—we were that close in what were supposed to be the best seats in the section, but I highly disagree to the point that the next time I go, I know exactly what row I’m going to request! Anyway, he did have some new stuff that made me chuckle: Running down Travis Sellers after his buck off, calling “What happened?! What happened?” to which Travis responded “The bull was better than me!” After we were sure that both Ryan McConnel and his bull were okay, Flint put himself into the mind of the bull and told us what he was thinking: “You think you can figure me out? Stay on this!” after which he crashed himself into the ground. After the Enterprise contest, in which Flint asks a fan what Brian Canter prefers—chicken or fish (really? Didn’t these people see the last event where that was aired on tv?), he wondered out loud if he liked boneless chicken and then went into a rather funny imitation of a boneless chicken. Finally, there was a cute moment when Flint and Brandon were having a contest to see who had the most famous person’s phone number in their cell phone. Brandon won with the number of a famous country singer whose name escapes me right now (sorry). [SQ: How famous could he have been if he’s hanging out with Brandon?]

Famous people and those who associate with them

On Saturday, the big talk was about “NCIS” and how Flint wasn’t invited. In fact, a large part of the crew was there in one of the back rows of the section next to us. Then on Sunday, I hear, from behind me: “Omg…that’s Tom Cruise.” Now, I’d heard from the sound man, whose booth we were sitting behind, that Tom was supposed to be there that weekend researching a new movie. Well, he was never announced, but people spotted him and yes, he was definitely in research mode. He was stuck like glue to someone in a cowboy hat, staring over the chutes, watching intently, asking questions and listening carefully to the answers. When he came down to right behind the chutes, he spent a moment or two with Guilherme, talking and laughing. Then, when it came to the rope pulling, the camera got him and that’s when most people got it—Tom was there! Loud cheers came from the crowd. I’m not crazy about his behavior and attitude these days, but it was kind of cool to see someone that popular at the event. I’ll be interested if anything comes of this movie.

On the dirt

Going on the dirt is an interesting experience because you learn a bit more about the riders and their attitudes. Ryan was in good form. Jordan Hupp is wonderfully polite and talkative young man. Renato and McKennon were mobbed, with each handling it differently. Both were accommodating and all smiles, but Renato had more of a vibe that said “I love my fans,” whereas McKennon had more of a vibe that said “I love being loved.” It was very subtle and it wasn’t enough for me to be turned off—like I said, he was very accommodating and friendly—but there was something. Perhaps the fact that he wouldn’t go farther than one or two steps across the barrier into the fan zone area and we had to go to him added to that. (After having seen his interview and rider profile the next morning, I really hope that someone he looks up to pulls him aside and tells him to dial it back a little.). Robson was the best encounter of the night. He spoke about his injury and then, when we told him about meeting his wife and little girl in Anaheim, he grinned and told us with great pride and animation about how she’s just started walking. Then about how she loves to go to the window to look out at the cows and announce, loudly, when they would approach the yard. He was glowing.

Something exciting!

In the end, it turned out to be a great event. McKennon was determined to hold onto that #10 spot. Shane made a great effort to knock him out of 10th. JB hung onto third. A short-go (sadly, w/o a Brazilian rider—how often does that happen?) with only one ride and, while I like other riders better, I have no issues with Austin Meier and respect the determination he has this season Therefore, I congratulate him on his win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great "inside" story, Shannon! Thanks.

Glad you had that conversation with Robson. One thing that I adore about Adriano, Guilherme, Robson, and Renanto is how proud they are of their families and the devotion they show to their wives. While I'm sure this is true for other riders (away from the fans), I just don't see it. (Remember when JW asked Justin what sex the baby was that his heffer was having?)

Anyway, glad you had a good time and somebody you appreciate and respect won!