The Casual Reporter: August 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mickey Mouse to Appear in Wild West Show

What follows is unofficial, insider news that I may not have the right to reveal. It's hearsay in any case. As a precautionary measure, please disregard everything you read here and forget where you heard it.

A couple months ago the results of a Disneyland Paris survey revealed that guests want more contact with Disney characters. I assume this survey-informed revelation was the driving factor for another decision made by someone of high importance somewhere in the upper Disney heirarchy, probably in marketing, to make mandatory that all live shows, starting sometime in 2009, will be required to feature Disney characters in some fashion.

This means that if all goes according to plan, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris Resort, France, will feature Mickey and/or Minnie Mouse in the show itself. So far the rumor is that their appearance would be limited to the introduction of the show.

This clearly is not in keeping with the illusion that is created when guests enter the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show building of being transported back in time and space to the 1890's, but let's be honest, painful as it may be: few people were likely ever really transported very effectively anyway, at least not since Peter MacLean left the show, yet the show was and is wildly popular and successful.

If Buffalo Bill himself were alive today, making a living producing or participating in circus-like shows that represent the American West as it is today, would he be eager or appalled to include Disney characters? Cody had great affection for children, and he certainly seemed to appreciate the input of a powerful producing partner, so he might have been quite happy to include Mickey and Minnie in the introduction to the show had they existed in his time, if Disney was footing the production bill.

Still, as much as I love the Disney company and its products and as much as I appreciate the marketing intent behind the idea of having Disney characters in all the shows, featuring Mickey and Minnie in this particular show somehow cheapens the legacy of one of the greatest showmen of all time, the first global superstar. W.F. Cody was a real man representing a real era and real people, which differentiates our show from others, which are purely fictional. It just doesn't seem ethically correct to disregard the legacy of a real person as if it were Disney fiction. What're your thoughts?

Casual Reporter Visitors are Worldwide!

My apologies for the dramatic drop in number of posts. After much effort I have convinced my lovely wife to take a year's sabbatical leave and have thoroughly enjoyed her company over the summer, along with that of my two sons. We spent much of our time these past couple months remodelling our modest home and swimming, and me doing shows. Where I once had oodles of spare time I have recently had virtually none - my reason for not doing much blogging.

I am delighted to discover that The Casual Reporter is still attracting visitors, however. Curious just how many visitors, I attempted to find a "gadget" that would display exactly that figure. Instead, I discovered a gadget that displays on a Google Map the location of visitors to The Casual Reporter. It's nearly as diverse as the audience we play to each night! Cool!

I have also recently started receiving more comments for articles previously posted in The Casual Reporter, some several months old. Check them out! I'm thrilled that my efforts continue to draw attention. Thanks to all!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cody Steps in Human Poo

For those among you who imagine France as a beacon of sophistication, I relate to you a story that should temper such idealistic sentiments. My sons Cody and Zach embarked on a 3-minute walk to deposit our glass bottles in the local bottle depository down the street (such recycling policies are what contribute to the myth of Europe as the mecca of forward thought and sophistication).

Ours is a lovely residential street much desired among locals, in a safe, quaint, friendly community about 40 minutes from the heart of Paris - middle class suburbia in the form of a roman-age French village.

Not far from the house, Cody stepped in a pile of crap. Not dog, or cat, as one might not be surprised to accidentally step in, but human excrement. Our street features a number of off-road parking areas and not far from the incident a bank with a wooded area where one who might be so desperate could choose to squat in emergency, but whomever did this thoughtlessly and carelessly deposited their load in the middle of the sidewalk.

Happily, this isn't a regular occurrence and as a rarity surely not particular to France, but it does reflect a tendency among the French, from my experience, of being severely self-absorbed. Despite having spent nearly 13 years here, I'm still disappointed to be constantly reminded by such crass examples that I live among people who can be so incredibly mindless to stop and take a crap right in the middle of the sidewalk.

I don't recall ever hearing this happen to anybody in any decent residential neighborhood anywhere in the USA.

So fair warning, or gentle reminder: despite the oft-deserved accolades of sophistication among the French, self-absorbed idiots are at least as much a part of the fabric of French culture as anywhere else in the world. Watch your step.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Pinkie Chronicles: Pinkie Loses Hat Both Shows.

Pinkie lost his cowboy hat in both shows tonight. In the first, it came off as he was crossing to the Gold Star Ranch during my introduction of the Rough Riders, landing at the edge of the arena in front of Gold Star - an innocent enough error, but because the hat was Pinkie's, it became a target.

Most horses will notice something out of the ordinary like Pinkie's hat on the ground and will prick their ears at it, maybe snort, usually making an effort at least to avoid stepping on it. When I rode near it to get out of Annie Oakley's way so she could shoot the candles of the candelabra, for example, my horse lurched sideways enough to elicit a hearty laugh from the line of cowboys.

Annie's horse is not at all like my horse. Her horse took absolutely no notice of the hat, enabling Annie to subtly but intentionally aim her horse to nail Pinkie's hat perfectly, stomping it and kicking it forward several yards, eliciting an even bigger laugh from the cowboy line-up. The scene continued until, as Annie circled for her exit, I subtly said over the microphone, mainly for the cowboy's benefit, "one more chance". Annie bowled into Pinkie's hat again, sending it forward another few yards.

The cowboys' exit punished Pinkie's hat further, but it stayed on stage. Later, when the Chuckwagons entered for the Cattle Trail scene, Chad was able to run his team and both right hand chuckwagon wheels directly over Pinkie's hat. It's a small thing, losing a hat, but it provided ample entertainment for the cowboys.

In the second show, Pinkie beat Brice's roping time by 0.3 seconds, winning it for Gold Star. Brice feined fury over the call. It might have ended there had it not been Pinkie. When Annie handed the winner's flag to Pinkie and Pinkie started the winning round, Brice galloped after him, grabbing and wrestling with him as they circled. Pinkie tried in vain to fight Brice off, but with one hand on his reins and the other carrying the flag, his only defense was to try to awkwardly hit Brice with the flag. Not only did this appear awkward and endearingly pathetic, it utterly failed to deter Brice and resulted only in Pinkie's own hat being knocked off in front of Gold Star.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Didier Pulls His Ass with His Crotch

Didier, who plays Auguste Durand Rouel in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France, and Cacahuete, the ass, or burro he rides into the arena for his second entrance, have a special relationship marked most famously by the "mounting episode" years ago. Tonight their relationship has added another layer.

To appreciate the visual I am about to create, you need to know that Cacahuete's halter rope is tied back onto itself beneath Cacahuete's chin to create a closed loop similar to roping reins. The Auguste character uses these "reins" to ride Cacahuete into the arena and half-way across it before dismounting, at which time a handler leads Cacahuete the remaining distance to the upstage exit.

Recently Cacahuete has begun the bad habit of ducking out from under his rider and rolling in the sand for several seconds, upstaging everyone and upsetting the rhythm of the show. To help school Cacahuete out of this habit, Didier was instructed to keep hold of Cacahuete's reins and lead him across the arena if he tried to stop and roll.

Tonight, when Cacahuete ducked and stopped, Didier slid over Cacahuete's head and, as instructed, kept hold of the reins. But rather than step over the "reins" and pull Cacahuete beside him, Didier remained straddling the looped rope, holding it in one hand just above his crotch. The lines of the loop extending from his hand pulled down along the sides of his genital area and cut into the creases separating thigh from genitals, effectively framing and highlighting his crotch area. Cacahuete pulled from behind, making taut the "reins" and further highlighting Didier's crotch. For several meters Didier continued to awkwardly lead his ass with his crotch, seemingly amused and bewildered by the predicament he had gotten himself into and apparently not sure how to get out of it when finally a handler rescued him, rescued all of us from what can only be described as absurd, borderline obscenity. And so their love saga continues...

Despite the absurdity of the entrance, Cacahuete did NOT roll in the sand.

Nik Receives Wedgy of the Century

I've never seen a more severe wedgy in my life.

The Green River cowboy had just won the Pony Express race. Nik, Green River's clown for the night, capped off the audience cheer with his trademark backwards pratfall off the ranch rails into the arena while Gene, an Indian playing "dancer" for the evening, was at his post in front of the downstage doors.

As I explained to the audience the rules for the the Rescue Relay race, I noticed Gene trot over to Nik and start rough-housing with him in the arena. As Nik tried to climb out of the arena into the Green River ranch, Gene pulled Nik back down by his clown pants, breaking the back buttons of Nik's suspenders in the process and revealing the top band of Nik's underwear.

Gene then leaped over the rail into the ranch to block Nik climbing out of the arena, when apparently he got the idea to give Nik a wedgy. Standing about 6'3" against Nik's about 5'5", Gene had little trouble leaning over Nik, grabbing hold of his shorts, and pulling, essentially suspended Nik in mid-air.

The black fabric of Nik's underwear stretched up his back nearly to the base of his shoulderblades. The leg-holes of Nik's underwear came so far up his backside that not just his butt cheeks but several inches above his butt cheeks were fully visible from the judge's stand. Nik hung helplessly, his body tense but not flailing for fear of serious injury to his private parts, his upward progress blocked by Gene's body.

Then Gene started bouncing Nik in his own shorts, revealing even more skin through the leg holes and covering more of Nik's back. Nik's future as a potential father was only saved by the start of the Rescue Relay race. This time the warriors really did rescue someone.