Monday, January 24, 2011

Shannon in Anaheim

Once again, devoted readers, the Divine Shannon has schlepped off down to Anaheim to see the boys and the bulls, and has sent us this sterling description. Since things have been a bit different at the PBR this season, I found this first report of a live event very enlightening. Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to read it for yourselves. Shannon speaks!

The PBR in the OC

I can honestly say that for about 95% of the time in Anaheim, I had a great time, but yes, things have changed with the live show. To me, they were only slightly annoying, but it’s possible that others are very bothered by them. If you get lucky enough to get to a live show this year, I’d be interested to hear what you think about it. From the reports I heard about NYC, I think they’ve gotten a bit more of their act together.

Now, once again (and, as usual, with less about the rides and more about the experience) and with thanks to SQ, I give you my annual guest blog.


It seems as though safety and liability are now a bigger priority for the new owners. I realized this as soon as we headed to the Fan Zone only to have to sign a waiver to set foot on a flat concrete floor with some camera equipment on it. Okay. Whatever. Guilherme was standing just a few feet away from us—I’d have signed a promise to name my next kid after the bull of the year to chat with him. Besides, it only takes a minute. However, later that evening, the liability issue got even more eye-roll worthy when we were subjected to a big, red WARNING! sign flashing on the video screens and our new female voice explaining that the show opens with loud explosives and strobe lights and if you are sensitive to these things, you may want to spend the next few minutes on the concourse. Talk about taking the fun out of it! I know that some people are afraid of loud noises and, if it’s their first time, they may not be aware it’s coming, but still. My friend Sonja noted, though, that the voice sounded almost sarcastic, as if she were saying, “I’m told that it’s my job to warn you that you may actually hear some loud noises and see a light show at this highly adrenalized sporting event.” With that done, we were treated to the usual opening with even more fire, more fireworks, and more lights, but less pomp and circumstance—there were no patriotic flag bearing military members and no swearing-in of new troops. All the riders were introduced and stayed out on the floor throughout the national anthem (sung by an Aussie—I wonder how all of the “This is AMERICA!” people felt about that!) and we heard one of the nicest prayers I think I’ve ever heard at a PBR event. Then the show was on!

This Section is Brought to You By…..

Sponsors! Yes, the name of the game is definitely money. We got commercials before the show. We got another voice telling us, at the beginning of each flight, that this section was being sponsored by this company. And I thought a bit less of Flint would be a good thing. I understand the need to satisfy sponsors, but I really thought having their name plastered all over the arena and the riders, not to mention their booths out on the concourse, their female, barely dressed, assistants and, in the case of Rock Star, having a rider flashing their beverage at the camera, would be enough, but I guess not. Oh, and just a quick note to the new producers: You may want to do another filming of the ad where Flint talks about the PBR store. You do know that he’s not sponsored by Enterprise anymore, right?

Bull Power

The bull power was actually better than I’ve seen in the past. Only 12 rides on Friday and not many more on Saturday. Stormy, J.B., Skeeter, Ryan D., Silvano, McKennon, Guilherme, Mike Lee, and Renato gave us some great rides. In terms of the actual rides and bulls, this was one of the more exciting events I can remember. I wonder, though, what happened to Chad Berger. I think this is the first year I haven’t seen him or his bulls in Anaheim,

Bushwacker is in the House!!!

Okay, so he only came out once and we only saw him for about 2 ½ seconds, but this is one magnificent creature! His bucking style is just electrifying and I feel privileged to have been able to see him work in person.

Fans: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (and the Humorous!)

I love people-watching. There are so many that make you smile, some that make you laugh and some that make you go, “hmmm…..”. And of course, we had it all in Anaheim. There were the two um…what’s a good way to put this?...hoochies, I guess, who were able to navigate up and down the stairs in the skimpiest of outfits (miniskirts that barely covered their butts, lacy bras showing, and enough fake bling to light up the dark winter sky ) complete with, I’m not kidding you, at least 3-1/2″ spiked pumps! Rick, shaking his head and catching the shocked look on the people behind us, said, “One day, they’ll develop some self esteem”. Amen to that.

Then there were the two old guys in the audience who tried to not only one-up each other, but also Flint, with their (not so great) dancing skills. I wish he hadn’t engaged them so often—it got old really fast. There was the cutest little girl (about 5) with braided pigtails tied with ribbons, wearing a pink plaid, button-up shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots who broke our hearts afterward when she set her eyes on her favorite rider, not realizing that he had already passed (thinking he was on his way), and shouted in her little, excited voice, “Ryan Dirteater!” Then there was me and Son…um, I mean…the two 40-something-year-olds who won-Boot Barn boy cut underwear and got some of the more light-hearted riders to sign them. There were many laughs and smiles, the biggest from Valdiron and Silvano. We were shocked when Kasey was up for it and laughed when McKennon, who happily signed them, said that he didn’t have a sunburn from his afternoon surfing, that he was actually blushing. Yeah, right.

One final thing: If Skeeter Kingsolver continues to stay strong and in the BFTS, watch for him to get as popular as J.B. The crowd was very happy to see him when he was announced, and the applause was practically deafening on Saturday after his short go-ride.

Surprise, Surprise!

Many of the riders were very nice to talk to. They were much more responsive than usual, and we really appreciated it. The three best moments of the weekend were:

1. Ryan Dirteater remembering the gift that Amelia made him after he got hurt the last time and spent a few minutes with her talking about it. He put a little something extra in her autograph and said that the gift was still displayed on his shelf. He seemed sincere, but even if he didn’t really bother to keep it, I appreciate that he told her he did.

2. Rick getting a smile from Silvano when he said, in Spanish, “It was a good night. You had good luck.” At first, he looked shocked (because Rick does not look like someone who can speak such good Spanish with such an excellent accent), then smiled and answered back. He then proceeded to misinterpret the action of the little boy next to us, who turned to say something to his mother just as he approached, and assume that the little guy wanted his shirt signed across the shoulder. The mother let it go without comment and just grinned.

3. With all due respect to our resident Minion, I’d just about given up on ever seeing J.B. Mauney after an event. Since my first visit to a PBR event 5 years ago (and I go all two or three nights), I have only seen him out twice, and that was years ago. Butlast night, just as we were about to leave because there wasn’t a rider in sight, Dalton said, “Oh wait—there’s one more who just came out.” We were thrilled, not only that he came out when the kids were there, but he was actually engaging in conversation. Rick said “Man, I have never seen a ride so rank as yours tonight in the short-go,” to which he responded “You and me both—and I was tied to the back of him!” Then he let me take a picture of him, the kids, and Rick (he’s Rick’s favorite rider).

I Don’t Want to See Someone Die

I don’t recall the topic of the conversation we had on this board last season—if it was the helmet issue, or that genetic engineering is producing bulls that are tougher and tougher, but I do recall SQ saying that one day, we’re going to witness the death of a rider on live tv. [SQ: It was about helmets—read it again here, if you’re interested.] After the drama of Beau’s accident, McKennon’s ride immediately followed. It happened so quickly, it was shocking. The helmet went flying and he hit his head on the bull and fell off, unconscious before he even hit the ground. Things came to a stunning and frightening halt. The woman in front of me, a fan that I’ve met many times, sat rocking in her seat with her hand over her mouth. I was intently watching to see if he was breathing, convinced that if he was, he’d surely have fractured many facial bones (thankfully, after a couple of minutes, I realized that if he wasn’t breathing, we’d be seeing some CPR). Rick was watching intently to see if any fingers or a foot moved. Nothing. Simply nothing. I don’t think any of us had ever been so scared in our lives. After he was brought out—still unresponsive and, according to those on the floor afterward, he never woke up on his way to the ambulance—we were held on standby until one of the ambulances returned. There was no music, nothing from Flint. The people in front of us left. Some of us didn’t feel like getting excited for the next two rides. However, we did rally and gave Silvano and Skeeter the applause they deserved for their great rides and a very close 1-2 margin. Then we made it down to the floor, where we met the guys, who, like I said, were much more chatty than usual. I guess after something like that, talking—whether it’s about the accident itself or mindless stuff—can be healing. It sounds odd to be grateful that McKennon only has to deal with a broken jaw and surgery, but given what we saw, that’s a very good prognosis.

Final Thoughts

When I started hearing complaints about the NYC event and saw all the glitches in the televised events, I was thinking that I may not buy another membership this year if it’s that bad. All in all, though, we still had a good time and the changes, while annoying, are ones I can deal with, so I’ll be renewing my membership for another year. In fact, I’m considering going to Fresno. If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble, SQ! I’ll be interested to hear what all of you think about this weekend’s event.


Anonymous said...

Glad you got to talk to JB finally. But sorry you had to witness the wrecks of Beau and McKennon. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound hopeful for McKennon tonight. I think he's way worse than we know...
THanks, Shannon!

From Shelia

Shawk said...

Thanks for the writeup, Shannon!

I think that I had to sign some sort of waiver before going into the filming area that they let the fans go to at Fresno-- so it's been around for a bit. I think they didn't want you to fall over a cord and sue them, and they wanted to have the okay to show you if you got caught on camera.

Did they warn about the dry ice? People were whining about it on the Behind the Scenes tour in Vegas. ;)

I really like Skeeter-- he seems to be a good kid and he's kind of grown into himself this year. When he started, he was really young, and then he went through an awkward stage where I suspect he was having a hard time figuring out his own body and balance. He seems much more comfortable this year.

The injuries... oy. That was horrible to see on TV and I know that when I've seen injuries live, I get pretty freaked out, so I can only imagine how you felt with injuries of this magnitude. People elsewhere are saying that McKennon is/was on a ventilator, which is beyond scary. I hope he will be all right.

Jean said...

I'm glad JB was friendly and glad he had a sense of humor about that buckoff (or was it just that he didn't have a helmet to throw at y'all? lol)

Okay, what's the latest news on McKennon Shelia?? I can't find anything other than the concussion and broken jaw we heard about Saturday night? I'm very worried now. Yes, I cheer for the bulls, yes, I'm a bigger fan of the bulls than most of the riders, but dang I don't want to see one of those boys crippled or killed :-(

saraht said...

Mesa Pate has been tweeting the latest updates on McKennon. You can follow her tweets here:

You don't need a Twitter account or a cell phone. Just log onto the above site & you can follow along.

shannon said...

You're welcome everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

Shawk, this was the first time I've ever had to sign anything to get down into the filming area. I wonder why it wasn't a consistent thing over the past couple of years?

Jean, I posted on the zonk board that his girlfriend posted that they just discovered a broken shoulder, too. He was on a ventilator over night, but it was removed Sunday afternoon. His gf also posted that he's woken up a couple of times, briefly--once he even checked out his pretty nurse :) She said that when he gets restless, she discusses the bulls and bull riding and it settles him down. I have a feeling he'll be as soon as that shoulder is healed, wired jaw and all.

saraht said...

Ooops! I just noticed that I lost part of my last post. I wanted to thank Shannon for her excellent review.

I enjoy reading all of the articles on this site. Thanks everyone!

nancy said...

Thanks for the writeup, Shannon. I wonder what changes will be in store for us when the Show rolls into Atlanta this May.

Got a giggle when I noticed the flights are being sponsored. Reminds me of being at the Grand Ole Opry ("this segment of the Grand Ole Opry is brought to you by White Lilly Flour!)

I thought about you--and another friend of mine at the event--when I saw McKennon's wreck. How horribly sobering to be there. With all the huzzah going on at the show it's easy to forget that one can actually witness something tragic.

And for the record--since I haven't formally posted this yet--I can do without the Truth Booth and the Wired mess on the broadcasts, but please, please keep that wonderful opening video. I get chills every time I hear the intro. And yeah, I miss McKee. Wish he could come back in some capacity, even if only for behind-the-chutes interviews. Much as I like Leah (and who is that new child?) I think McKee could do a great job with riders and stock contractors.

Shawk said...

Are you still considering going to Fresno? If so, we should exchange some emails or something. :)