EYE WITNESS: HARTFORD INVITATIONAL

SATURDAY

TECHNICAL STUFF

  • In case we couldn’t get enough of the Nyah Nyah announcer girl voice from the TV broadcasts, we also got a dose of it at the live event. Yuck.
  • No matter how many events I attend, hear the warning about the loud noises, and brace myself, I always jump out of my skin at the first explosion. This time I decided to skip the noise and headed to the concourse─ but to get out of earshot of The Big Bang, I would’ve had to take a train to Rhode Island. Yeah, I know some people think explosions are da bomb─ when they were kids, they probably thought setting off cap guns was thrilling—but I waited it out on the concourse. Ya see one flaming bull head, you’ve seen ‘em all.
  • NOTE TO JEREMY: Dude, 37 acts at Bonnaroo have shot your hearing. The sound volume between rides is fine. The sound volume during rides is abominable. “Pounding” is not what we need. Loud does not equal exciting. That’s what crappy bands and hearing-impaired producers think. News flash: bull riding already is exciting, it doesn’t need extra decibels to tell us it is. There’s something called sound perspective: you scale the sound to the size of the room and the number of bodies in there absorbing the sound. The XL Center wasn’t a packed house and it ain’t Madison Square Garden. I worked in the rock business for 12 years and never had to wear ear plugs, but when I left the XL Center I had a headache and my ears were ringing. I don’t want to have to wear ear plugs when I’m watching bull riding!! I still wanna be able to listen to The Who until I’m really old.

FASHION ALERT

Cody Nance in those yellow chaps got beat by Travis Briscoe in his shiny turquoise chaps. Is it my imagination, or are the chaps getting fancier as we get closer to the Finals?

LOVE IT

  • Tony Mendes in his lime green chaps twirling out onto the dirt waving his hat. He may not be one of the top guys, but he’s making people remember him.
  • Ryan McConnel’s bull Magic taking a victory lap after they scored 86.

EEK!

  • Sleeper’s hoof got way  close to Colby Yates’ head─ musta been revenge for the slap.
  • In the Championship Round, Kody Lostroh let go of his rope Yo Yo at the same time, and landed hard.

DANG

  • Jordan Hupp challenged the clock, but yep, he did leave Tight Rope’s back too soon.
  • Buffalo Hump, who has delivered some fierce buckoffs in the past, had no spin tonight, so Kasey Hayes was given a re-ride, and that didn’t work out well.
  • In the Short Round Ryan Dirteater on Cool Spot was in trouble from the get-go; after his no-score on Mister Meanor (a wack job in the chute) and his re-ride, Uppercut, he finished Saturday with nothing.

WTF?? This is my new category for when I can’t believe what I’m seeing:

Valdiron de Oliveira got dumped by Exotic Justin so fast his head must’ve spun. That injured knee is doing him in.

BULL STUFF

  • New Britain 1843 was introduced like a rising star; Robson Palermo rode him for 87.25, looking a lot like Adriano Moraes, finished with a whirl around to the side, then landed on his hurt arm. That shoulder took a beating.
  • Rusty Zipper, another hotshot, didn’t perform up to par tonight for Douglas Duncan.
  • Hot Toddy helped Sean W. to an 83.75, then wanted a piece of everyone in the ring.
  • Air Jack was emphatic about getting rid of Luke Snyder; to add insult, he took Luke’s rope and cowbell with him.
  • After Pete Farley scored 86 on Sucker Punch, the bull just wouldn’t stop spinning: “Look, Ma! No man!”
  • Hard Times was so pissed that Douglas Duncan rode him for 88, he kicked the top of the fence as a parting gesture.
  • Fabiano Vieira rode Stinger for 87.75 points; that black and white bull was airborne.

GOOD ON YA!

Corey Navarre, racking up an 83.25 on RMEF Elk Country─ and we all know those RMEF bulls aren’t easy.

CRAZY 8s

Josh Faircloth was off Lunatic Fringe and on the dirt when the buzzer sounded, but the judges didn’t review the ride; they just went ahead and scored him, 80.50.

I’M JUST SAYIN’…

  • The 82.50 the judges squeaked out for Fabiano Vieira on Over Achiever was a real cheap shot.
  • I went to the new PBR website to look up stats on some bulls, and apparently they never heard of Rusty Zipper, New Britain 1843, Stinger, Marmite, Whitewater Trouble and a whole lotta other bulls; they also said RFD HD had a 100% buckoff rate─ except there was no indication of how many outs the bull had.

SUNDAY

LAUGH? I THOUGHT I’D DIE

The intro on Sunday: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the arena: the PBR entertainer and next President of the United States¾ Flint Rasmussen!”

ALL FLINT, ALL THE TIME

  • “Flint For President” signs in the audience inspired him: “I’m a ride-in candidate. I’m gonna ride in with all the other clowns running for office.”
  • After taking the piss out of the “Footloose” remake, Flint did Kevin Bacon’s turn from the original. And he’s about twice as old as Bacon was at the time!
  • Cody Nance’s bull No Doubt chased him up onto the Shark Cage, and Flint was right up there with him, in a Crouching Tiger defensive move, reassuring Cody, “I got ya!”
  • Haunted Hotel sent Mike Lee almost in a cartwheel before the buzzer (though the clock said 8). The bull came after him, so Flint unleashed his secret weapon: he tossed his hat at it. It touched the bull, but HH reacted with just a disdainful little flick of a hind hoof as if Flint’s chapeau was an annoying mosquito. Big laugh from the crowd.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Barbosa is fierce on the back of a bull, and not too bad on his feet: I liked that little dance challenge step he threw at Flint after his ride.
  • Hartford was Kody Lostroh’s best event of the season (not that he’s been in many).
  • Fabiano showed true style, spurring away, and afterward let out a joyful “Woo!” with a little jump. Ty characterized him as being “very present” during his ride.
  • Dustin Elliott’s bull Loud Mouth chased Flint up the fence at the arena announcers’ podium, and it really did look like the guys up there tried to push Flint back down into the bull’s face. “This guy signs my checks and he’s tryin’ to push me back down!” he squawked. Brandon Bates teased him about having a panic attack: “I think it’s the first time you might have peed your pants!” Flint really did look a bit, uh, stricken as he hightailed it across the dirt ahead of the bull, fleeing for his life. He hung onto that fence for a while, making sure Loud Mouth wasn’t coming at him again, then got brave and chucked his hat at him. It landed in front of the bull’s face, and he nearly charged at it, then stared it down as it lay on the dirt, daring it to make a move. “Wait—let’s watch and see what he does!” yelled Flint from his perch. But a rider was queued up in the chute, and the show must go on. That was a very interesting insight into bull psychology: he was acting just like a dog. A 1600-lb., big, smelly dog. And later on, for the third time that day, yet another bull chased Flint up the fence.

BULLS BEHAVING BADLY

  • Mister Meanor was seriously acting up under Elton Cide in the chute. Scary bull.
  • Jared Farley didn’t make 8 on Keepin’ It Real, and the bull did not want to go home, even when he was roped; he just lowered his head to try to shake off the noose. The wrangler had to gallop ahead of him to bring him into the chute.
  • A Bull Named Sue, waiting for Caleb Sanderson to nod, reared up over the top chute rail. I guess with a name like that, ya gotta act extra macho.
  • RMEF Bugle stood up in the chute (betcha didn’t know bulls can walk on their hind legs), hung his forelegs over the top rail of the chute, and said Howdy to all us folks.

BULLS BEHAVING REALLY, REALLY WELL (for the stock contractors)

  • Angry Bird is bringing it! Dumped Pistol Robinson Saturday, Reese Cates on Sunday.
  • Stanley FatMax, the bull formerly known as Stubby, did not make Sean Willingham’s weekend. Sean was miked for grunting; after his buckoff, he let out a big ARRGGHH as he trailed down the hall back to the locker room.

NOT SURE WHAT THIS MEANS

L.J. Jenkins and Trickster looked like they were in a hug as L.J. was about to say goodbye; the bull, who had crazy timing, stumbled down onto his front end, his cheek scraping the dirt. He’s the second bull I’ve seen do this─ have they been conferring on strategy?

COULDN’TA SAID IT BETTER MYSELF

Flint to Brandon Bates and Clint Adkins: “You guys just stare at me.”

Bates: “That’s ‘cause you freak us out a little.

I’M JUST SAYIN’…

  • I saw a lot of empty top-price seats, and almost all the cheapest seats were empty.
  • Who the hell is operating the (Stanley) “Stud Finder” in the arena? Clearly not a woman. None of those contenders was studly in any way.
  • There were quite a few inexplicable buckoffs on Sunday afternoon; I’m not going to name names, but a few of you guys were in the lobby of the Marriott doing mojitos on Saturday night, right?
  • Are the judges scoring most of the Brazilian riders lower and the Americans higher, to push the Killer Bees down in the standings? Did they think they could tank Vieira by high-scoring Kody? All Vieira had to do to win was ride his last bull…yet they still scored him .75 less than Douglas Duncan. But talk about gracious! In his post-win interview, Vieira congratulated Duncan on his performance. Don’t think I’ve heard riders from another country do that.
  • Sean Willingham’s ride was textbook. I wish we’d seen Leah Garcia’s interview instead of more Flint on parade. Hey, I don’t suppose there’s a chance of coordinating the broadcast and in-arena activity so instead of spending $62 for The Flint Show, we could hear and see more about bulls and riders (before and after rides), the “telestrator,” and Leah’s interviews on screen? As long as we don’t have to hear all the Hummerblather. I know the headset thing is complicated, but I’m sure the much ballyhooed David Neal Productions can figure out the tekkie end.
  • Barbosa didn’t know how to pick his bull or how to ask anyone; Robson ran out to the Shark Cage to help him. Where the hell is the translator? So far they’ve used him only for interviews. He should be there for the riders when they’re actually working: picking bulls, challenging a ride, talking to chute bosses, Cody Lambert, judges, medics.

MISCELLANEOUS ACTION

  • Justin Koon was limping badly his topnotch ride on Express (87.50). Turns out he had torn cartilage in his knee.
  • Jordan Hupp got a re-ride because Marmite was leaping but not turning back or kicking high; that’s not the Marmite I remember. Jordan did an amazing job, but took the re-ride, because who wants to keep a 73.50? He would’ve been better off, though; RMEF Bugle gave him a goose egg.
  • Ryan McConnel delivered a solid ride on Chicken Lickin; when he shifted his hips for the bull’s direction change, I knew he had it done. That’s more like “Mr. Clutch.”

CAN I QUOTE YOU ON THAT?

“I know how to ride bulls; I just don’t know where it’s been.” ─Justin Koon

BEST DRESSED FANS

As soon as I spotted the two blonde girls in jeans, straw cowboy hats, and matching pale green shirts, I knew who would be chosen Best Dressed Fans of the Night. “Do you have boyfriends?” Flint asked the 9-year-olds. “No,” was the expected answer. “Well, let me give you a tip: in about 10 years, do not go to that end of the arena [pointing to the chutes]. It’s nothing but trouble.”

YIKES!

While Corey Navarre was on the dirt Stanley Bostich’s HurriQuake stepped on his head; that helmet saved his life. Flint was right on: “He’ll be out for two weeks. In the NFL, he’d be out for two months.”

SERIOUS FAN OF THE NIGHT:

High school senior Gabby was waving a sign that said: “I skipped Homecoming for Flint.” He was so impressed, she got a dance with him, then he got down on his knees to sing her a song. Gabby was crowned Homecoming Queen and Fan of the Night.

AARRGGHH

  • Kasey Hayes was doing fine on Hidden Agenda, closing in on 8, but was called for a touch at 7.93.
  • Robson Palermo almost rode Flip Side, but that left shoulder injury did him in; he’s obviously in pain. He’s scheduled for surgery after the finals.

WTF??

  • Trips bucked off J.B. Mauney practically inside the chute. Yes, he got a re-ride, but a fat lot of good it did him; he got bucked off again and made a very fast escape from the bull and up the fence.
  • Ryan Dirteater on Squawk Box lost his right foot right out of the chute.

LOWLIGHTS

  • As he went into his interview with Leah Garcia, Silvano Alves looked disappointed but resigned about his unfair no-score on Bar Code.
  • Brendan Clark looked so dejected, hanging his head after Where’s the Whiskey moved him off to the side onto the dirt.
  • Ryan McConnel banging his arm against a rail in frustration after unridden Whitewater Trouble stayed unridden.

DANG

Montanacanvas.com’s direction change threw Jason O’Hearn after a good 6 seconds, and the man looked kinda draggy after that.

NITWITTICISMS

  • “Luke Snyder could care less about the stats,” according to The Bummer. “He just wants to soar up the leaderboard.” Umm, and those two things aren’t connected?
  • “It’s the move back around that gets Lee off.” ─ Hummer, teaching a class on the birds and the bees.
  • The Bummer has decided that Douglas Duncan’s nickname is now “Double D.” How unfortunate! It’d be better if you did call him Shirley.
  • “I always call it an exclamation point.” (Guess who.) Yeah, you do, and nobody knows WTF you mean or why you say it.

CLASS ACT:

When Fabiano Vieira was interviewed after his win, the translator interpreted his comments as, “I want to congratulate Douglas Duncan on his awesome performance.” What Vieira actually said was, “Doug is a great cowboy.”

EEK! Sunday’s Championship Round

  • In the chute, King Lopez tried to launch himself over the top rail just before the gate opened. Barbosa got bucked off, landed on his head, somersaulting over. When he stood, he didn’t remove his mouthpiece or helmet, and looked like he was in shock; I thought he might’ve fractured or compressed his neck vertebrae. He was moving pretty gingerly, and didn’t understand Dr. Tandy’s questions, so Robson translated for him. This, PBR guys, is where you need the translator on duty!
  • L.J. Jenkins looked to be in a serious hangup on Trickster; he came loose, and it took all 3 bullfighters to get rid of the bull.
  • Kody Lostroh got trampled by Dark Shadow.

DUUUUDE!

If I didn’t see this with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it: across the aisle from me, five rows from the dirt, a guy was watching the event on his iPad! He’s lucky he stopped before I went and slapped him silly.

OUCH

Douglas Duncan’s final round ride on Chocolate Thunder put him in the lead for a while, but he was hurting so badly, he didn’t wait to hear his score; he hopped and hobbled all the way to the locker room.

CAN I QUOTE YOU ON THAT?

Ryan McConnell is cracking me up. I’m not sure what planet he’s on half the time, but during the draft when he was asked about the remaining three bulls, he had a little discussion about each one with Brandon Bates, like a teenager deciding which dress to buy, then sighed, “I don’t know…”

I’M MAD AS HELL…and you know the rest

Dickies Jeans sponsors an in-arena feature on “Toughest Jobs.” On Saturday and Sunday (and I assume Friday, too), the three people they asked the crowd to vote on were men: a service rider for a truck company, someone who picks up 1200 tires a day, and an Army guy. Of course the Army guy won.

Did they ever even consider that a woman might have a tough job? They drive trucks, serve in the Army and police force, and here’s a wild thought: try including a single working mother. Oh wait, that’s redundant: every mother works─ practically around the clock. A woman with a full-time job and no Significant Other does all the parenting and household chores. Being responsible for little lives is  tougher than driving a truck. If Dickies wants women to buy their jeans, they should stop excluding women from the Toughest Jobs bit.

AND IN THE CENTER RING…
The first 100? 150? (I don’t remember) people to enter the XL Arena on Sunday for the championship round were given little flashlights— shades of Ringling Brothers! When the lights went down, it looked like the arena was full of fireflies. Took me back to my childhood, only instead of smelling elephant dung, I was inhaling eau de bull crap. Irrelevant tangent: Ever wonder why there are different names for animal doody? Scat, sign, dog-do, dung, cowpat, spoor, stool…bizarre, huh? Somebody’s probably gonna tell me why, but just so you know, I don’t have a prize for whoever comes up with the answer.

HATE IT

And I don’t care how many people I offend. Whether anyone follows a religion or not, bull riding is a secular event, in a public arena. If it were in a cathedral, then you’d expect praying. If someone wants to go to a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or peristyle and pray before an event, fine. Nobody’s stopping them. Religion, or lack of it, is nobody’s business but the individual’s. Some people believe in a male deity, some people believe in a female deity, some people believe in more than one deity, some people don’t believe in any deity. Nobody should feel obligated to stand and pray to somebody else’s “Lord.”

No other sport involves praying before an event. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and it’s one of the facets that holds back bull riding from being a mainstream sport. Nobody will quit watching bull riding if it skips the praying. PS: There’s a concept in government called “separation of church and state,” meaning that religion and religious institutions are not supposed to become involved in political or governmental matters, and vice versa. That principle has been heavily damaged by several Administrations, but it’s still a good idea. Apply it to bull riding, and maybe outsiders won’t think of it as a backward, fake sport.

SURELY YOU JEST

The other BullSisters and I were joking about what the Built Ford Tough Invasion could possibly find to do in Hartford. I suggested the Mark Twain House. As it turns out, they did something even sillier: “Apple wrangling.” Aw come on, guys, picking apples is what you do with your little nieces and nephews when you go to buy a Halloween pumpkin. Hey, I have an idea! When the guys invade Las Vegas, how about having Colby and Luke dress up like chorus “girls” and do a turn onstage?

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About Bull Riding Marketing

Creative services, marketing and public relations professional from entertainment industry background. Published in magazines and newspapers worldwide. I believe bull riders are the new rock stars.
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4 Responses to EYE WITNESS: HARTFORD INVITATIONAL

  1. S. says:

    Some event I was at… Fresno, I think, had a woman as part of the Dickies thing. She was a school teacher. She won. So while I agree it would be nice if they included women more often, they have at least once done it.

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  2. Cindy Glaser says:

    Normally I agree with most of what you say, but not this time! Our country was founded on Christian principles and saying a prayer before athletes begin a very dangerous sport is VERY appropriate! No one is FORCED to participate, but as a former athlete I know that it is comforting and strenghening to call on that force. I, personally, am SICK and TIRED of all this political correctness, and from YOU of all people! You must not go to many rodeos, because most all that we attend include a prayer before commencing and singing of the national anthem and most everyone participates with their cowboy hats in hand. You are WAY off base with this one.

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    • I really hate to take off on a tangent instead of focusing on bull riding, but I need to address some misconceptions. First: I’m not slamming anyone’s religious beliefs. I’m saying that a sporting event ought to be a sporting event, period.

      1) Fact: A blog is a place where the blogger gives commentary, expresses opinions, and/or provides factual information. My blog = my commentary, my opinions, my factual information. Readers can comment, as long as we’re having a civil conversation. So far, only two people got out of bounds (name-calling, insulting), and they no longer comment on this blog.

      2) Fact: Our country was not “founded on Christian principles.” Documentation from the 1400s on─ often written by priests and missionaries─ shows the evolution, through theft of property and murder of indigenous peoples, of what today is called America. Many “Founding Fathers” were slave owners, and slavery is hardly a Christian principle, though the Catholic Church issued the original slave trading charter to Christopher Columbus.
      The Constitution was based on the principles of the democratic Iroquois Confederacy of the Six Nations, possibly dating to the 12th century; the sixth Nation joined in 1722. John Rutledge, chair of the committee to draft a constitution, read out loud to the committee some parts of Iroquois Law. On June 11, 1776, the Iroquois chiefs were invited to a meeting of the Continental Congress. The U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. I think we can all connect the dots here.

      3) Fact: Bull riding belongs to everyone, not just Christians. One Constitutional principle is freedom of religion. Anyone can practice any religion, or not. Any athlete can practice any faith, or not. It is Mike Lee’s and Cody Nance’s right to genuflect after each ride and acknowledge their God. It is anyone’s right to attend “Cowboy Church.” But only in ancient Greece was “bull leaping” (not quite the same as riding, but equally dangerous) considered a Sacred Game.

      Commentary: Because rodeos also start with prayer to a Lord/Father doesn’t mean that it should be part of an athletic event, which is a secular event, not a religious ceremony. Imposing a particular prayer, way of praying, or conception of a Supreme Being on an arena full of people of all kinds is not freedom of religion. It’s making the assumption that everyone thinks the same way and follows the same tradition, and it’s very uncomfortable for a lot of people. Linking it with politics makes this even worse, because politics is very divisive..

      Opinion: A respectful, inclusive way of handling this, if the PBR thinks praying is part of the sport, would be to ask the audience to observe a moment of silence for the safety of the athletes (and the animals). That way anyone can think or pray or whatever they feel is appropriate.

      Commentary: Putting the shoe on the other foot: A major spiritual tradition in Brazil is Candomblé, which mixes Christianity with African traditions. (Many Christians there also practice Candomblé.) If we were in a stadium in Brazil to watch a bull riding event, and a priestess of Candomblé gave an invocation to Yemanjá, the Mother Goddess, for which everyone was expected to stand, how would you feel?

      None of this is about “political correctness,” a phrase which has always puzzled me. Isn’t it correct to believe historical facts? to respect individual rights? to acknowledge that there is no one way of showing faith in something? “Political” has nothing to do with it. Freedom of religion isn’t political. It should be universal.

      Note to anyone who wants to discuss religion or politics: the comments will not go on this blog. I’ve made this one exception to clarify what I said.

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