Friday, November 5, 2010

The Divine S Reports from Vegas: Part 2

Folks, the Stockyard Queen is saddened to report that today, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that even though the magic button for uploading pictures has FINALLY reappeared on Blogger, something is still not working, so she STILL cannot post the Divine S's final report of her adventures in Vegas with appropriate illustration. The good news is that the Divine S is sufficiently succinct that you won't have to wade through a multitude of reports about the finals--let's face it, this has been a done deal for two weeks already. For that reason, I am going to go ahead and post this without the pictures, and I'm then going to go nag the folks at Blogger till they get this fixed. So enjoy, please! And stay tuned--we are about to reveal some important news about Turn Him Out!

Part 2

Saturday: Big Green Egg Cookoff

We decided to ditch the draft, which already had gathered a large crowd, and instead stake out some of the bleacher seats for the Big Green Egg Cookoff. Now, I know nothing about the Big Green Egg, and as a vegetarian living in an apartment with a small patio, I don’t have much call to use a giant BBQ contraption. According to the woman sitting next to me, they are amazing and you can even make cakes with them. I had no idea. I guess they must have some amazing convection properties (and at their price, they’d better have amazing properties of all kinds).

Anyway, the set up was that three chefs from local restaurants (Gilley’s, Rare 120 at the Hard Rock, and another one I can’t recall—the Palazzo?) were each paired with a cowboy (Colby Yates, Tater Porter, and Cord McCoy). The event had “Dr. BBQ” and Clint Adkins as MCs, and Adriano Moraes, Ty Murray, Michael Gaffney, and J.W. Hart as judges. It was much like Iron Cowboy Chef, with a basket full of “secret” ingredients and the directive to impress the judges. In this case, the ingredients were meat (steak), more meat (sausage), and Jack Daniels, and there was a “pantry” of additional items the contestants could use to supplement the surprise ingredients. [SQ: Damn. Sounds like my kind of meal.] And the race was on.

Colby Yates and Cord McCoy quickly demonstrated that the best thing they do in the kitchen is stay out of the way (this was confirmed by the wife and fiancee, respectively). Tater Porter, however, seemed to really know his way around a kitchen knife. I won’t go too much in detail as this went on for awhile, but I will say that I did have to wonder exactly how much proficiency J.W. Hart and company have in judging the presentation of a meal. In the end, Yates and his partner’s Asian twist on a cowboy meal won them each a Big Green Egg of their own. (The others took home cookbooks and some publicity.) I honestly hadn’t thought about Tater Porter in years, but seeing him slice and dice like a pro increased my fondness for him quite a bit. But on second thought, a guy named Tater ought to know how to cut veggies.

And by the way, apparently the meals made by all the chefs aren’t really anything they serve at their restaurants, which is unfortunate because the Asian twist meal looked much better than anything I ate or saw at Gilley’s (there was a very pretty salad and a corn dish in addition to the meat, meat, and more meat.) Also, there was apparently a magical sauce that seemed to defy cowboy description other than “It’s good!” (said in a tone of wonder by both Colby Yates and Clint Adkins), and the corn dish was described by Adriano Moraes, who is apparently quite fond of corn, as one of the best corn dishes he ever ate.

It was nice to see the guys getting some ribbing in and being their natural selves (Cord McCoy’s natural self is so goofy, which is of course part of his charm). Ty Murray even got a little potshot in at Adriano, more or less along the lines of, “Based on his shape since retirement, I think Adriano must be an expert in judging food.” The crowd let out an “OoooOoooOOoo,” as Adriano mocked outrage in the background.

So while I can’t say I’ll be running out to purchase a Big Green Egg, it was a nice promotion for the cowboys, the product, and the chefs. Maybe the year if they do a vegetable cook-off, I will buy one. Since this will never happen, I should be safe from ending up spending $900 on a BBQ contraption in which one can bake cakes. The thought of J.W. Hart’s face if he was presented a plate of vegetables warms my heart, however.

Sunday: The Main Event

And at last it was Sunday, and I can’t express how wonderful it was to be away from the dim interior of Gilley’s and instead be in the nosebleed section of the Thomas & Mack. Who thought I’d ever be saying that? On the plus side: our seats were positioned nicely on the corner above one set of bucking chutes, so our view was not obstructed by rigging, and we weren’t too incredibly far away. On the negative side: Ford once again provided those inflatable whapper things to annoy everyone. The only good thing I can think to say about them is that no one directly around me was using them, and that this is apparently the last year they will be giving them out.

Because likely everyone has seen the event on TV except me (thanks, NBC, for airing the show once semi-live and then never again), I won’t go too much into detail, but I can cover some things that I am guessing weren’t shown on the broadcast, or probably felt different for those of us in the arena.

Apparently earlier in the week, there had been some sort of interesting pre-show in which the much-discussed kabuki screens had been made off with by one of the Cirque groups in an artistic way, which would have been very interesting. However, what we got was commercials and various features projected on the hanging screens, the cowboys entering and being silhouetted behind the screens in the four corners, all your usual pyro, a slowly spinning Ford truck, Air Force flag presentation, the anthem and enforced prayer, and the screens being dramatically dropped. Thankfully, I believe that we have lost the video featuring the fighter jets. (And there was great rejoicing!) [SQ: Is this the one that starts with the American flag and segueways into the jets shooting big contrails out into the western sky? Hallelujah!]

Once again, I think it was probably way more exciting to be there than to see the event on television. It was fairly obvious as the day wore on that Renato was going to win resoundingly, but there was no sudden voice-over telling us the precise moment that Renato clinched it, which I’m sure there was on television. I’m also sure we saw a lot of rides (well, likely buck-offs, as there was a pretty high number of those) that had to be cut to fit the event into NBC’s reduced format, and of course, we got more Flint.

Flint has new material, at least, new to me, and a new sponsor, apparently. It was definitely a strange moment—Flint got to his Fan of the Night segment, and started saying something about Enterprise and what a great sponsor they have been. I wasn’t paying the closest attention, but next thing I knew, he was peeling off his clothes to reveal a rather lackluster Cooper Tires ensemble underneath. He then handed the clothes to the Enterprise guy and proclaimed he’d always be their Captain Enterprise. I’m sure the whole thing was meant in the best possible spirit, but it sort of put Enterprise on the spot for pulling out as a sponsor, and was likely incredibly mystifying to those in the crowd who weren’t aware of Enterprise’s general “pull back and fade away” ploy over the past year or two. Nothing was said to really explain it further, and it was on with the show.

One interesting thread through the event was a sort of dancing theme/victory dance theme. Shane Proctor, apparently feeling the lack of his own victory dance, threw in a medley of other riders’ greatest hits after his successful effort aboard 7 of Hearts. There was a little of Ben Jones’ chicken dance, a dash of McKennon Wimberly’s boxing, Ryan McConnel’s surfer dude schtick, and I believe he topped it off with a little Austin Meier strut. I guess he wasn’t feeling up to the Renato back flip (and at that point, Renato hadn’t even been nearly plowed over by the bull after an ill-timed back flip celebration!).

Flint also went on a tear about how he wished that just once, instead of stalking off or throwing things, a cowboy would do a dance. He demonstrated the dance he had in mind, a sort of spinning, pirouette-type move that spanned most of that side of the arena. Indeed, he was so captivated by this idea that he was willing to put up the princely sum of $20 to the first one to do said dance. A few cowboys declined, but Travis Sellers, quite hilariously, obliged with a quite credible twirl across the arena. No word yet on if Travis is indeed $20 richer, but the world is richer for pirouetting cowboys. In another curious moment, Guilherme did a strangely endearing victory dance that culminated in a headstand into his hat. I definitely enjoyed the exuberant, joyous atmosphere that pervaded much of the event and was outwardly shown through amusing dances.

From these highlights we go to a low-light, the giveaway from one of our new sponsors, Stanley tools. We had the, er, joy of seeing the “Stanley Stud Finder of the Night,” as the in-arena screen scanned over three men in the audience, beeping repeatedly when it found a “stud.” Because that’s totally tasteful, and of course women don’t use power tools. (I guess I’m glad my power drill is Black & Decker.) [SQ: This reminds me of one summer when I was remodelling a house with the help of my BBF Elisabeth. She was putting up towel racks in the bathroom and managed to find what we dubbed “The Only Stud in the House, nearly breaking her hand in the process. I still have the pictures.]

Outside of these moments, there was, of course, the bull riding. Silvano Alves continues to impress with his slow and steady way of racking up the great rides. Watch out next year when this guy has a full year with which to play. It was definitely nice to see guys like Guilherme Marchi and Skeeter Kingsolver getting back into the groove, and of course there were revelations like the newcomer Wesley Lourenco. Seeing Robson Palermo come back from what could have been a catastrophic accident and score a 91.25 to win the championship round was another one of those great PBR moments. It was a bit depressing to see Austin Meier lose his trajectory, but he seemed to handle the situation with grace. Seeing him pull Renato’s rope for his last ride revealed that he’s a classy guy, showing the very best of the “cowboy way.”

Of course, the story of the night was Renato Nunes, who gathered up all the mojo he’d lost after the button-pushing fiasco and simply out-rode them all in his particular crazy style to win the event and the title for the year. Although I would have been happy with pretty much anyone in the top few slots ending up the winner, it’s obvious that Nunes really wanted it, and it would have been a shame if he had lost due to head games caused by an action that was entirely justified and lead to direct results and hopefully improved judging.

I only wish Renato would have been able to stick it out on Major Payne [SQ: Bite your tongue, woman!], because seeing those two unorthodox athletes battle for the full eight seconds would have been electrifying, but seeing his giant, infectious grin as he stood behind two giant fake checks and held the trophy high was completely perfect.

Well, if Bones wasn’t rewarded for one good out by being made bull of the year, then things would have been perfect, but we can’t have everything. For now, I will savor the hilarious interviews with Renato, and look forward to another year of talented guys battling it out to the last, just as it should be. As much as there are things about the PBR that make me crazy, and as much as I feel they have added all sorts of useless frippery of late (how useless was the Final Five Chase?), as long as at the heart this sport is full of moments like Austin Meier hanging with grim determination on the side of his bull for an astoundingly long time, Major Payne befuddling nearly every cowboy who gets on his back, and Renato Nunes overcoming his demons to pull off a triumph, I’ll be watching.

If anyone wants to know more about anything, or there’s something I didn’t cover that you wanted to know more about, fire away!


shannon said...

Thanks, for the write up, S! Sounds like it was an exciting night. It was certainly exciting watching it unfold on tv.

We saw a few things you mentioned on tv. The dances were especially fun. I laughed a lot at Shane Proctor's dance.

Out of curiosity, did you notice an anti-Brazilian (or at least an anti-Renato) vibe from the people around you? I was angry to see, at one point I don't remember (maybe after Robson's accident? Or perhaps it was after one of Renato's ride?), quite a few people sitting around with their arms crossed over their chests with blank looks or scowls on their faces. I wonder how many people have gotten over what Renato did. Hopefully more than not.

Anonymous said...

From shelia (Google won't let me sign in again!)

Don't know if you're a fan of JB, but I kinda thought that his ride in on Braveheart was worth a mention, after the horrible wrecks earlier in the event. Glad he didn't go home empty handed.

Shawk said...

I wish they would re-broadcast the event! I would like to see how it translated on TV. There was just such a lighthearted feeling, which somehow kept being expressed in dance. ;)

I thankfully didn't notice an anti-Brazilian or anti-Renato vibe where I was sitting, bit then again I was so excited when he won, I wasn't really paying attention to what anyone else was doing. There was a guy in front of us who was deeply bitter about garlic fries, and a bunch of snotty comments about Obama, though.

Shawk said...

Sheila, I seem to be one of the few people who is neither a giant J.B. fan or someone who hugely resents him. I do like him well enough, and I was glad he was even walking after that scary wreck he took earlier, let alone riding anything. I also thought he handled the Finals in a very calm and mature way, which was great to see. But since my wall of text was already threatening to go on forever, I just selected a few things to talk about.