The Casual Reporter: 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whatever you do, DO IT NOW!!



My good friend, ex-actor, ex-Buffalo Bill, writer, sculptor, and ever-creative Jim McMullan recently wrote that he's made this new video to inform folks about his inspirational book, "Do It Now! Book & Clock Set." Jim writes on his website,

THE CLOCK IS TICKING...

Find inspiration to make all of your dreams come true in this handy book of motivational quotes about living each day to the fullest. Do It Now! Book & Clock Set will help you forge a new path leading to calm and serenity. This collection of quotations from such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Eckhart Tolle, and Goethe teaches us to live in the NOW—not in the past or future, but the present. Their wit and wisdom will help center the mind and give the NOW all of your attention. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”
So DO NOT DELAY! BUY THIS BOOK! DO IT NOW!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eleana Turns 90, Buffalo Bill Sings

A few weeks ago a guest of ours honored us by choosing to celebrate her 90th birthday at our show. Eleana, I learned, and 25 of her family members, took her to watch us in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, France. To show my appreciation, I leapt up over the rail during the start of the Medicine Ball pass into the Red River Ranch where she was seated, and took her hand. She was clearly delighted. 'J'ai quatre-vingt dix ans!' she said with a big smile, her soft, arthritic hands grasping mine, 'I'm 90 years old!' I told her I'd heard as much and that we were honored she was at the show with us, and I wished her a very happy birthday. She glowed. Later, during the final review, I announced to the public, 'I have a very special announcement. One of our guests, Eleana, is celebrating her 90th birthday today, that's nine oh.' The public applauded loudly and I continued, thanking her for choosing to celebrate with us. Her family started singing 'Bonne Anniversaire' and I joined in, in English. After the singing had stopped I promised that I would personally sing 'Happy Birthday' to anyone who chose to celebrate their 90th birthday with us. Guaranteed. I'm no Opera star so I'm not sure if that was a promise that will lead to more or fewer such occurrences, but I stand by it nonetheless.

Red River Sings Brice 'Happy Birthday'

I made some notes on September 19, 2009 for stories to include on The Casual Reporter, but I got sidetracked and didn't publish them. Better late than never, here they are:

September 19, 2009 - First Show

Brice’s birthday today. After he won the roping contest I suggested Christian, the Red River Clown, celebrate by having Red River sing him Happy Birthday. They did and he raised his hat to them in salute. Nice moment.

Second Show

Annie started shooting out the candles and a dog started barking. My brain didn't know how to handle this information. Was it a person barking like a dog, or a sound effect of some kind, or was there actually a dog barking in the audience? Another round of shooting and it barked a few more times. No mistake or confusion this time. It was a dog. The lights went up and I could see him between the first and second rows of Gold Star, next to the stairwell, plain as day, a full grown chocolate labrador with a thick red collar, panting, barking, and watching the show with great enthusiasm. "Well, I see we have one fan at least" was all the improvisation I could muster to try to regain some of the focus. It worked. Further investigation revealed that it was a seeing eye dog. Usually seeing eye dogs are trained for everything, but apparently they overlooked 'watching a Wild West Show'.

General:

A month or so ago the rodeo games started and I noticed there was no bunting anywhere in the arena. "Looks naked" murmurred Annie Oakley. It had been removed, my manager told me later, as part of mandatory maintenance for all the cables, lights and other things that occupy the rafters of the show.

It took more than a month to re-dress the arena, which leads me to wonder if 'bunting cleaning' had been deregulated like the phone industry. Between France Telecom and Free Telecom I waited over 6 weeks for phone and internet. Eventually the bunting and all the other decorations made their way back into the arena.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Latex Cowboy Stuns Halloween Audience

1 November 2009

There are some things in life it's better a feller never sees. Last night during the second show, a cowboy named Tell was one of those things. Up until Tell took the stage, the Halloween shows were indistinguishable from others save for some of the Indians' face paint: a skull, a jack-o-lantern, a ghoul, and so on.

But when it came turn for Red River's cowboy to compete in the Pony Express race, Tell trotted on stage and made Halloween 2009 one to remember. Tell is an uncomplicated, stereotypical ranch kid with a playful sense of humor. On a normal night he'd be dressed like all the other cowboys, in a western shirt and jeans, but last night he appeared in a skin-tight faux-latex black "cowboy outfit" two sizes too small.

The top, a sleeved vest held together in the middle by four straining snaps, was so short it barely covered his nipples. Where the bottom of the vest ended, his pasty white midsection bulged forth ever-so-slightly.

The pants were low-rise and skin-tight from hip to ankle, leaving disturbingly little to the imagination. More midsection skin bulged ever-so-slightly out above the waistband. My guess is the costume was designed as a sexy little number for a thin female, which Tell, tellingly, is not. When Tell raised his hat to Red River, I'd say a good 18 vertical inches of pasty Canadian flesh circumscribed his torso like a white inner tube gone flat.

Mickey and Minnie stared in disbelief at the spectacle that was Tell as did, I imagine, a fair number of guests.

Tell ran the race, the seams of the costume somehow not splitting, then executed one of his trademark celebrations: "The Worm," an 80's breakdance move where the dancer lays belly down and propels himself forward by undulating his body in a giant wavelike motion. He jumped to his feet, hands held high in victory, a layer of excrement-laden sand stuck to his white belly and faux-latex costume, and looked up at the judges stand with a big crooked grin.

As I was saying, there's some things a feller just never needs to see, and that was one of them. It's an image that will haunt me for a long time. But dang it was funny.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Horror Story from France's Universal Health Care System

I'd had a bad stomach for 10 days so I thought I'd get it checked out just in case it's something sinister. I'm new to the area so I went to the phone book and browsed the doctors around me, general practictioners to surgeons, and decided on a specialist, called, made an appointment for 3 days later.

His office was in a private clinic hospital with state-of-the-art technology. I checked in with the secretary and waited about a half hour.

The doctor was well-presented, friendly, attentive, and highly qualified. He had the latest technology on hand in a very clean, bright, well-decorated and well-furnished office. After the examination, 44 euros later, he sent me away with a prescription for 2 drugs and a blood test.

I went home and walked to the pharmacy to get my drugs, which cost me 13 Euros. Since I hadn't bothered to find the lab close to the doctor's office, I asked where the nearest lab was that could take my blood for the blood test. The pharmacist told me which ones were closest, then handed me a slip of paper with the names of 6 nurses I could call and have my blood taken at home. After 14 years in France I wasn't aware I could have a nurse come take my blood.

I went home and called one of the nurses, who agreed to come over the following morning. She arrived a bit earlier than scheduled, took my blood and charged me 7.03 Euros.

Tomorrow I'll walk to the pharmacy and pick up my blood test results, or have them sent directly to the specialist. About 70 - 80% of the dcctor's, nurse's, and lab costs will be reimbursed by the National Health Insurance and another 10 - 20% paid by my employer-provided supplementary private insurance, so I'll be out about 5% of the cost. Prescription drugs are usually reimbursed as well, but not always. It depends on the drug. In this case, the 13 euros won't be reimbursed.

Now I'm sitting at home near the fire watching British Comedy on TV and my stomach is feeling much better. Had I been in the states I don't know what my experience would have been, but considering the experience was inexpensive, efficient, and effective, and I had full choice of doctor, including a specialist, I can't see much room for improvement. The only downside is I just looked at some photos of Wyoming and I miss it very much. Shame this system wasn't over there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How One Horse Bought a Ranch



Sonna Warvell of the Warvell family soon to be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and also Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, France, recently emailed me a link to an article written about Jim and Jan Warvell, her parents. The article, "Great Horse: White Feather," is a touching account of an extraordinary horse whose talents were so remarkable the Warvells based their show around him for 12 years. According to Jan, the shows success, on the back of White Feather (literally) paid for their ranch. It's worth a read. Click on the title above to do so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Love Wyoming

My grandmother forwarded me this article written by a sports reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. It made me proud to be from Wyoming and made me wonder why I'm not there now.

Trip to Wyoming feels far from home but closer to God: Faith and You
By Terry Pluto
September 26, 2009, 4:55AMI don't think much about heaven, other than that I want to go
there.

There are some images of heaven with angels floating on clouds and playing harps, or perhaps of heaven as a never-ending church service where people sing and pray until they drop. I don't know what heaven will be like, but I doubt either of those portraits is correct.

Last Saturday, I flew to Denver to cover the Browns game I'm not sure what that 27-6 loss to Denver was; it sure wasn't heaven.

But the day before that game, I went to southern Wyoming and thought a lot about heaven.

I drove down roads where I saw more pronghorn antelope than I did cars and people. I drove down roads where I saw signs reading, "Next services, 34 hours." I drove down roads where, when it snows, they drop gates and close the interstates until the storm passes.

I drove down roads under high skies and huge clouds that seemed to rise up to the heavens. I drove down roads through miles of open pastures, roads where my cellphone was long out of range.

I drove down roads that made me think of a line from novelist Dan O'Brien: "You have a sense that everyone can see you, but no one is looking."

That may bother some people, who are uneasy about all the rugged, lonely hills and valleys.

For those who love a crowd and the 50-percent-off sale at the mall, a state with 522,830 people and an estimated 550,000 antelope may not have much appeal.

I have been to Wyoming at least a dozen times. On each visit, I think how the land is not tamed by man. Some mountains are too high, some rivers too wild, some storms too fierce.

I know that there are days when Wyoming can seem like hell on earth during a blizzard, a dust storm, or with a blown radiator in the middle of nowhere and no one around to call for help.

But I didn't think of that as I drove south of Laramie. I saw several herds of pronghorns - 10 over here, 25 there, at least 50 ahead on top of the hill. For 10 miles, not a single car was on the road.

In Isaiah 65:17, God says, "Behold, I will create a new heaven and a new earth."

I had a taste of it as I drove west on Wyoming 130 into the Snowy Mountains. They rose 10,000 feet with the sun peeking behind snow-capped peaks. Rather than spend any time wondering how such a place was created, I was in awe of God's hand and power behind it all.

Then I saw a truck on the other side of the road, a man standing near it, staring into the woods. I slowed down and spotted a huge horse with antlers .. only, it was a moose in a clearing. I stopped and walked over to the man.

"There's four of 'em," he said. Then a female moose and two young ones ambled out from behind some bushes, joining the big bull. We watched them silently for about five minutes, me wondering what exactly got into God when he created a strange creature like a moose. Sheer entertainment, I suppose.

Finally, the four moose disappeared back in the woods. The other man and I left, too, nodding to each other but not saying a word.

First Corinthians 2:9 reads: "As it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. "

But that Saturday in Wyoming, I was given just a glimpse.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sonna "Annie Oakley" Warvell Inductee to Hall of Fame

As reported recently in the Star Telegram, the latest class of inductees into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame includes the Warvell Family: Jim, Jan, Toni and Sonna Warvell of Weatherford. The Warvell family performed trick riding, trick roping and comedy routines worldwide. Jim and Jan now own and train racehorses, Toni is active in judging horse events, cutting and training, and Sonna has starred as Annie Oakley at Disneyland Paris in its production of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) since the park opened in 1992.

Also to be inducted are legendary baseball player Nolan Ryan, Olympic gold medal winner and Hollywood stuntman Dean Smith, and James Jennings, the voice of Mesquite rodeos. The Hall of Fame, in the Fort Worth Texas Stockyards, will introduce the class at a January 14, 2010 ceremony. The honorees were chosen because of their excellence in competition, business, and support of rodeo and the Western lifestyle in Texas.

Sonna shared this news with the Wild West Show cast last week, with much pride and to much applause. One of my favorite pictures of her is at age 4, laying down a horse in a Wild West Show. She and her family are now officially living legends. Congratulations to Sonna and the Warvell family for this much-deserved recognition.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trent's Buffalo Bill Shows are "Electrifying"

The Artistic Coordinator, Artistic Director, and a returning principle actor each recently took time to pull me aside and tell me my performances have reached a level of excellence they describe as "electrifying," "amazing," and "unbelievable." They say I've attained a quality of performance that is now "untouchable," "in a league of it's own," and "beyond compare."

The level of their compliments caught me completely by surprise.

Despite my disgruntlement over the ridiculous idea of management asking us to deliver each show in 90 minutes, striving to keep a 90-minute pace has required that I intensify my energy and focus, which has apparently, unexpectedly, resulted in noticeable improvement to my already strong performances. I was tickled to watch the Artistic Team search for superlatives with which to laden their compliments. What an honor and surprise to have accidentally, even reluctantly, achieved something worthy of gushing approval. According to the Artistic Director, the new pace and intensity inspires other performers and the whole show is improved.

As a side benefit, I get home earlier to watch American Football!

So now you REALLY must come see us!

Monday, August 10, 2009

WWS Finishes Under 90 Minutes

Lest there be any doubt that the WWS is more factory than theatre, the latest directive from management is that the show must finish in 90 minutes. So I kept a ruthlessly rapid pace throughout both shows last night, bulldozing through moments where I normally allowed slight pause for theatrical drama, clipping the end of my fellow actor's lines, ignoring interruptions where improvisation is called for, not waiting for audience applause to die down before delivering text, and cutting words from my own text where possible. With the aid of the other actors, we delivered the show in 90 minutes the first seance and 87 minutes the second.

Management was perfectly tickled.

Pace is important, to be sure. Too often actors overindulge in their own stretched out moments of drama, or confusion, and the show slows to a crawl. Or. Stop.

But to ignore the audience and the occasional special moments of improvisation makes the show impersonal and can undermine the credibility of the characters, in my view. Allowing for special moments yet keeping a good pace is not easy. It's an art that not everyone can master. Hence, I imagine, a blanket solution for all to a problem that belongs to a select few individuals. (Me, of course, not one of them. I can't be to blame - this is my blog!) Perhaps one day we'll be able to relax again and respond to the audience in a natural way that allows each show to be individual and special, and builds the credibility of the characters and the moment, without being slave to an arbitrary time limit.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sitting Bull Pole Dances on Chuck Wagon

A couple weeks ago, for the first time ever, the Principals in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, were unable to judge the rodeo games from the traditional judges stand.

I was in the production office between shows when one of the technicians arrived slightly flustered and announced in French to the Stage Manager that there would be no judges stand for the second show. The 3 or 4 members of the production staff present looked at each other, raising their eyebrows, grimacing slightly, and puffing their cheeks in concern as they learned the details: one of the wheels fell off and was not repairable. Apparently the wheel had been a concern for several weeks but for reasons unclear to me was not repaired so it finally broke clean off. I asked what they proposed be done for the second show. The Stage Manager's first response was that the Principals would just have to call the rodeo games from the floor of the arena - do some animations and what-not.

I explained, patiently I thought, that standing on the arena floor was an unacceptable solution, that perhaps the Chuckwagon at least could be used. A quick call to the Horse Trainer confirmed what I assumed the response would be: not possible. We the performers would just have to adjust and make do.

The others checked their watches to make sure they weren't running late for their lunch break. That's when I felt my face start to heat and my jaw muscles clench.

Over the course of the next half hour I made my feelings very clearly known. I explained that even though I'd been working at the Wild West Show for 14 years and perhaps should be accustomed to the way things are (or aren't) done, I still felt it infuriating that nearly every technical dilemma, it seemed, was answered not by a flurry of activity, creative thinking, and a can-do approach to solving the problem, but a simple announcement of the problem with the matter-of-fact assumption that the performers could and would simply adapt, adjust, and improvise in front of 100's or 1000's of paying guests who, one would hope, expect a polished and complete show. And when this "solution" doesn't work, as you may well imagine is sometimes the case, we the performers are the ones who risk embarrassment on stage when all goes not as.. not planned... We are the first to be recognized as participants in what may likely appear an amateurish performance. Perhaps most importantly, we are the ones put most at risk improvising in a show where 62% of the cast are very large animals with minds and personalities very much their own - animals not accustomed to unrehearsed changes and not necessarily mentally or physically well-equipped to coping with improvisation. And I'm not talking about the Cowboys and Indians: 48 of the 78 physical beings who make up our cast are of the bovine and equine variety.

Yet time and time again when systems fail, when things break down, when stuff doesn't work or supplies run out, the default response from the production team seems to be "make a note to fix it in the future and tell the cast to make do for now."

In fairness, I seldom witness first hand what tasks the technical staff perform, so some of my barking criticism may be unwarranted. One explanation given for the seemingly nonchalant approach to resolving technical problems is that a quick fix is more likely to fail and could be more disastrous than doing nothing at all. This seems reasonable in some cases to a certain extent, but there are usually compromises preferable to doing nothing and leaving the cast to sort it out on stage.

After shouting, accusing, comparing France to the USA, and apologizing for basing my anger on unfounded assumptions, the Horse Trainer thought of an excellent temporary solution: use the chuck wagons.

Possible after all, I guess.

The Horse Trainer himself drove one of the chuck wagons out with the canvas down and steel support ribs bared, and we used the old Triangle for a bell. The straight legs of the ribs resembled poles so, instinctively, in telepathic unison, Annie and Sitting Bull discreetly mimed a pole dance as I started the rodeo games. I think it's the first time Sitting Bull has done a pole dance, even one undetectable to the public. Annie I don't know about.

Later, on the theatrical front-facing stairs leading up to the open door on the bed of the chuckwagon, where the Principals were standing, Lucas did some step-aerobics. Directly in front of the judges. We watched in silence for a few seconds as he soberly carried out his routine then jogged away, shaking it off. Very amusing. So we had fun.

We used the Chuckwagon for several days, maybe a week - the time it took to fix one hub of one wheel. In one show, frustrated by the lowness of the chuckwagon's bed compared to the judges stand, I stepped up on the rim of the box but, aware it looked less than regal, quickly stepped back down. My action apparently inspired Auguste who subsequently stepped up on the back edge of the box and balanced for several seconds before descending, and Annie, who balanced on the rim during the entire Pony Express Race, clenching the pole with her left arm for balance and somehow, not always entirely successfully, juggling the clipboard, pen, triangle with bar, and four post bags. I shouldn't have started the idea.

The excuse I heard for the delay was that the axle/hub assembly was from a Renault vehicle but nobody knew what year or model. I guess they had to wait for an expert from Renault to come figure that out for them. Or something. Who knows. Now the judges' stand is back, repaired, and the episode has been forgotten. Hopefully the next technical glitch will tend towards the benign, as in this case, and not the alarmingly deadly, like in Adam's case.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Adam Bomb Video

Here it is, at long last: the full, uncut version of Adam falling from the sky. Watch carefully the left half of the screen...

H

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Video: Didier Sings "La Marsaillaise"

Not to be outdone by the 4th of July show, when Rebecca sang The Star Spangled Banner, the Artistic Direction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Paris had a professional sing the French National Anthem, La Marsaillaise. Didier, who has played Auguste Durand-Rouel in the show since 1992, has sang La Marseillaise on the 14th of July for the past 17 years. This year, though, to remain consistent with the Artistic Vision for the 4th of July show, the Artistic Direction had James, one of the Stage Managers who is also trained as an understudy Auguste, sing while Didier played Auguste. James' singing style has the rough and guttural qualities one might find in a modern recording musician while Didier's style is operatic, which is usually the style preferred in a stadium or theatrical environment. The management team apparently considered the physical blocking of the scene, which revolves around the characters, critical, and considered James' singing style perfectly sufficient for the occasion.

After Didier expressed his discontent at not being allowed to sing La Marseillaise, the Artistic Direction agreed that Didier and James should each do a show, one playing Auguste and one singing. Here is the video of Didier singing La Marseillaise:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wade "Pimping Carrefour"

This just in from Wade, Cast Member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, back in the early 90's. Wade:


something new...pimping carrefour now..love the blog dude


Mickey Gets Poo on Hands

It was bound to happen. The show, after all, features nearly 40 live animals, all needing to deficate at one moment or another each day, often in the arena itself. Already some of our four-fingered friends (Disney characters) had stepped in manure. On this occasion, it got on Mickey's hand.

It started during the medicine ball pass game of the first show. Sometime during the course of this exciting event the Gold Star medicine ball landed in some manure, certainly not for the first time in the 17 year existence of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France. Between shows the props technicians failed to clean the medicine balls for reasons unclear to me. They are an extraordinarily industrious bunch so they were likely repairing things important or creating some masterpiece of a set element for a grand production to take place in the near future. Or hanging out smoking. Cigarettes one would hope.

At any rate, they were clearly not motivated to clean our balls. Thus, during the second show when I reached down to grab two balls I noticed the gold one had a slathering of manure affixed to it. I carefully handed the ball to Annie Oakley, giving nod to the manure. She subsequently showed it to the cowboy in the arena, who wrinkled his nose in disgust, then threw the ball into the arena. When the cowboy reached down to grab his ball, he decided to rub it in the sand first to dislodge the manure then handed it to his teammate. The second teammate handed it to the third, then to John, the fourth. John held the ball up to Mickey, last in line, to show him the manure. Mickey apparently missed all the cues regarding the manure and simply grabbed hold of the ball, getting crap on his hands.

All of this would be no big deal except that apparently Mickey thought the cowboys had intentionally rubbed manure onto the ball, or intentionally handed it to him knowing it still had manure on it, or something, because when Mickey got backstage he stomped in fury, all 4 foot 8 of him, to the Production Office, rattling the handle to the door in hopes it was open to receive his fury. I could hear his famous high-pitched voice as I walked up the corridor. "Golly!" he exclaimed, "I have poo on my hands, all because of those darned cowboys! Poo!" to which Goofy replied, "Pooh!? Gawrsh! Is Tigger with him? Gaahuckh..!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Val Gets Married


This just in from Chris and Joss:

Val got married on June 20th at Victor’s guest ranch in N. California. His (now) wife’s name is Mikie (Michael-Ann, nee Gonsalves). Guests included Chris & myself, Hodge & the mother of his gorgeous baby boy Teani (stunning lady), Fonzy & his new wife Christine and Chris Lawson (who rushed over for the pre-wedding bash the night before from the BFI in Reno). Naturally Victor was there and Chris (mine) and Victor were groomsmen and Mike Fontes drove the stagecoach that delivered the bride and little flower girls to the wedding aisle! They all looked very dashing. We had a ball – call us for details so you can put the big news on the Casual Reporter. (This published sans details.) It was out of control and completely WILD WEST SHOW!! We stayed on for another week (after a quick trip to Oregon) after everyone left and had a ball with Victor. Caught my first trout, visited Crater Lake in Oregon, saw Mount Shasta and made a trip to Portland, OR, to stay with a filmmaker friend of mine who owns a great bar there – even managed to stay 2 nights with Val’s parents in S. Oregon on the way back to Victor’s!!
The bond continues….

Monday, July 6, 2009

Annie Oakley Masters Horse During Show

(A stallion similar to Target, taken from: Tales from Echo Canyon)

One of the actresses who plays Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Resort Paris, but who doesn't want her real name used on this blog, showed her talent and experience with horses today to a level of expertise that demands special recognition. Horses, like most people and animals, have individual personalities. Target, the little Arab gelding she rode for her first entrance has the personality of a cocky, lazy, teenager. Over the past several weeks Target had gotten the better of the other actress who plays Annie Oakley, first by being troublesome laying down, then being troublesome getting up, then getting up when he wanted rather than when asked, then simply refusing to even lay down. Off stage, in practice, Target did his job fine, but he knew on stage the rider had limited resources to correct behavior so he got away with whatever he wanted.

Tonight's Annie Oakley was asked to help correct Target's bad behavior. The concept, as with any cocky, lazy, teenager, is simple: be firm and fair in making the offender understand the rider, not the horse, is the boss. Tonight's Annie did exactly this. In writing it sounds simple, but any human attempting to control the actions of an animal weighing several hundred pounds and who thinks he's the boss, has to know what they're doing - especially when on stage in front of a 1000 spectators. Like any spoiled teen who is challenged, Target rebelled, but like a great parent, Annie kept her cool, kept control, and helped Target do his job. Witnessing the event was a pleasure - the kind of real experience that few people, especially people coming to watch a Disney-produced show, are likely to witness. What an expert. Hats off to tonight's Annie Oakley, an excellent performer and one of the best horse trainers in our outfit.

Wild West Show Celebrates July 4th


The team at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris added a few special elements to the show on the 4th of July to commemorate American Independence Day. First a parade was held featuring the cast as they rode horses through Disney Village. The show was mostly unchanged until the end. The set was lit up with stars and stripes and Beli rose from the canyon with the American flag as the talented Rebecca, flanked by the characters, sang the Star Spangled Banner accompanied by our musicians. I hear it went very well.
I happened to have the day off. I spent the evening at the home of some American friends who had a 4th of July party. To mark the day I declared independence from my English wife. She said good, you can go by your independent self and refill my wine glass then, please. I showed her..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

WWS Bids Public Farewell to Michael Jackson



One of the privelages of playing Buffalo Bill in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, is that I sometimes have the freedom (or take the liberty) to add a few lines of text at the end of the show to commemorate special moments. Usually, for instance, when a cast member leaves the show, I (or whoever is playing Buffalo Bill) will say a few lines. Somber moments are sometimes recognized as well, as was the case tonight. Here is a transcript of my final words tonight:

We hope you have all enjoyed yourselves tonight, and we hope you will all come back and return with us again to the legendary world of the pioneer days on the great American plains.

Before we leave I just want to say that the late Michael Jackson was a friend of this show. He watched our show several times. There was always something special about performing in front of one of the greatest entertainers that has ever lived. We are saddened by his passing. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans. May he rest in peace.

Just remember, wherever there is a sunset, there is a West, but there's only one... BUFFALO BILL'S WILD WEST!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Pinkie Chronicles: Pinkie Sings "Pinkie" Again

Pinkie sings a new version of "Pinkie", with new, unforgettable lyrics:

Luka - Vote for my rendition!
Disclaimer: Although based on a real person and real events, all accounts of "The Pinkie Chronicles" are fictional, meant for entertainment purposes only. Personal characteristics of the fictional "Pinkie" do not necessarily reflect the personal characteristics of the real person on whom "The Pinkie Chronicles" are based.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guest Email - Great Review!

Following my entry on the DLRP Review website, and subsequent quoting on The Casual Reporter, a long-time guest of the show sent me an email showing that most of us are doing a pretty good job after all. Maybe I was a bit too egotistical and unfair suggesting my shows are something special. From this guests' perspective, our show rarely misses the mark. With his permission, here is his email:

Hi, sorry to trouble you.

I have just read your review on DLRPmagic, and subsequently looked at your blog.

I would like to take the opportunity of thanking both you, and everybody else involved in the show.

My wife and I have seen Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show some 15 times now, (over the last 12 years). Our 2 children (aged 5 and 3) have seen it 3 times and spend many a happy hour playing cowboys and indians, mainly inspired by the show.

I have only seen 1 poor production of the show, and that was 3 years ago when there was a failure of the technical side of things, the sound track and lights were all over the place and the serving of the food was out of sync with the action of the show.

Even so, the cast and servers did a faultless (as always) job.

So, once again, my thanks. I look forward to seeing the show again on our next visit (25th to 20th July).

Kind regards.
To everyone thinking of seeing us, be confident you will have a great time. For those performers who read this blog, keep up the great work! The guests are watching...

Trent Scouts Wild West Show Reviews

I sometimes take time to search the web looking for comments and feedback on our show. Here are some interesting excerpts from comments posted on DLRP Review, one of the top results for the search "Buffalo Bill Mickey Review":

Have seen this show about 5 times over the years and have to say that this visit was the most disappointing one of all. There were a lot of empty seats whereas previously each show has been packed.

The addition of Mickey and friends is completely pointless and spoils the show as the whole thing is disjointed, there were only 2 races which were over in the blink of an eye so not much chance to get into the spirit of backing your team. Certainly not the enjoyable dinner spectacle it once was.
And another:
The atmosphere is nice, such as waving your free hat around and shouting ‘YEEHA!’ and some of the food is ok, but it can get a bit tedious at times. Nobody really knows what’s going on and it can get quite boring. The animal parts are quite exciting though.
Another negative excerpt:
...on the show front everything was going along nicely (atmospheric Red Indians etc.) until Annie Oakley came out. Her part has always been a bit hokey, but the inclusion of Mickey and Minnie to hand over the medal for the best shot was completely unecessary and just slowed things down.

As expected the characters came out during the campfire singsong and led us in a few choruses of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” amongst others. Needless to say this went over real well with the 9:30pm crowd of mostly adults. This section went on far too long.

When the games began the characters stuck around and kind of acted as unofficial mascots for the different ranches, but their purpose on stage was never really explained. During this part the Rodeo Clowns did their best to keep the half-empty arena enthuised and they did a good job, but I don’t remember them being so mean-spirited before. The Green Clown took my Dad’s hat and stomped on it. I was not impressed...

Ultimately, the show was lacklustre. The best bits were the atmospheric moments with the Red Indians and the finale (read: the bits they left alone), but ultimately the characters killed any kind of atmosphere that could have been present. This was only made worse by two things; first, the shows small audience and second, the fact that some of the performers seemed like they were going through the motions. There was no sense of excitement like there had been before. I could barely care if our medicine ball made it to the stage let alone into the basket. What enthuisiasm there was seemed forced and unnatural.

This coupled with the mediocre food and poor service made this show the lowlight of our trip. I really feel like we wasted the chance of a good meal elsewhere.
Fortunately these negative comments were balanced somewhat by very positive reviews:

Definitely my favourite attraction, absolutely loved it! The horses were superb, well trained. You really got the feel for western life. Crowd participation was required, everyone cheering for their team and booing the others. Food was okay, although I didn’t manage to eat all mine before they came to take the plates away. Too busy watching the show.

Well worth the money. If you take a package, get this as an extra and you get a discount. Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Another:

YEEEEEEEEEHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

This is worth going to see and worth every penny, I took my wife and daughter to see it last year 2007 and my wife can`t stand anything to do with Westerns, but to my astonishment she loved every minute of it..

I was sat beside her and watching her from the corner of my eye and I could see just how much she was enjoying the feeling of being part of the Wild Wild West….

The atmosphere was ELECTRIC you could see just how much everyone was getting involved in the show, and the Rodeo Clowns what can I say FANTASSSSTIC….

And what made it all worth while my wife made a comment saying that even though we were having our food they didn`t stop the show, but hey the stars of the show The Horses, Buffallos how well trained they were..

This show I would deffinately agree for everyone to see and we will be going again this year 2008 providing its open as last year it was only open for two nights before closing down for some time, so we timed it right at going at that time of year to get the show in….

I would say the highlight was when the Rodeo Clowns got you roped in to boo and hiss your rivals (As there are 4 sections) Taking your hats off and waving them in the air when your team in the arena wanted support, it was a total laugh and very enjoyable…..

A CREDIT TO ALL STAFF INVOLVED IN THE SHOW AND THE ANIMAL TRAINERS…….

And another:

I have seen this show many times before now, and i know the plot off by heart (and in fact some of the words) but i still keep going back for more on each of my visits!

The show is breathtaking! Some of the stunts that they perform are incredible! The food is average, they dont give you long to eat! The audience participation makes the show really exciting, parents be warned you may be sent down into the ring!!!

So grab those cowboy hats and give a big “YEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAA”

And finally:

A must see show. The main attraction is not the food but the show. The food is a bit of a distraction really. It is good quality if somewhat lacking on the portion size. Unlimited beer? Only if you can grab a waiter to top you up. The show is outstanding. The audience is involved from start to finish and the storyline keeps you entertained the whole time. As I said at the beginning, a must see show.

Not one to remain silent, I signed on to dlrpreview.com and give my own two cents worth. Here's my comment on our show:

I am one of the actors who plays Buffalo Bill in the show (that’s an older photo of me to your right). I thought you might want to hear my thoughts.

It pains me to read the negative reviews, especially knowing that they are honest and accurate. And it thrills me to read the positive ones, which I also know are honest and accurate. The truth is some performances are better than others.

I can guarantee when I’m playing that Buffalo Bill will be energetic, dynamic, and fun, and the show will probably be outstanding. I can’t vouch for the other performers. The food and service I have no control over.

Your best bet, honestly, is to email me from my blog, http://www.thecasualreporter.com and find out when I’m working. Feel free to do so. (There’s a link from there to “Buffalo Bill’s Blog” my other blog, although the content is nearly identical.) Come when I’m playing if you have a choice. You’ll be glad you did.

Then later I added:

My post (above) needs updating. It’s true I’m frustrated that some of our performers have behaved on stage in a way that would warrant descriptions like “tedious, boring, going through the motions, no sense of excitement” and so on. It’s unacceptable.

I stand by my guarantee that my performances will be consistently of the highest caliber but I add that I CAN vouch for a whole lot of the other performers as well, many of whom are excellent and put their heart into their performances. I won’t name them here, but they are in their own right worth coming to see our show.

I just can’t vouch for ALL of the performers all of the time. Check out my blog for more from me: http://www.thecasualreporter.com

I challenge all performers who read this blog to step up to the plate and make the same guarantee to their audience, to themselves, and to their fellow performers, that I did. Many things we have little or no control over, but our own performances, how we work on stage together, is completely within our control. Do your own thing right before you criticize others. We all depend on it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Articles on Buffalo Bill's Blog

I posted a couple new articles on Buffalo Bill's Blog that you don't want to miss: The Pinkie Chronicles: Pinkie singing "Pinkie" and The Adam Bomb Video . The first is a spoof of me imitating Pinkie singing the Suzanne Vega song, "Luka" as "Pinkie". The second is a video of Adam's accidental stunt where his descender breaks and he free falls 11 or 12 meters to the arena surface.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trent Vance Interviewed by DisneyBrit.com


Several weeks ago I was contacted by Adam Goodger, originator of The Disney Brit Podcast to be interviewed. The Disney Brit Podcast is a collection of podcasts (iPod Broadcasts) created by Adam and his business partner Juz (author of 'The Family Guide' series of books that currently includes Orlando and Disneyland Paris) around the theme of Disney. Adam found me via my other blog, The Casual Reporter and thought our Wild West Show story interesting enough to showcase in one of his weekly podcasts. I agreed, of course, and eventually he interviewed me between scenes of one of the shows. The interview is broadcast in two halves, Episode 14 and Episode 15, which you can access by clicking on the Episode above, clicking here, searching for "Disney Brit" in the podcast section of your iTunes application (download iTunes here for free) or scrolling down to the embedded players below. His podcasts are very well produced. Adam is an excellent interviewer. He asked my thoughts on the characters in the show, on my portrayal of Buffalo Bill, on the evolution of the show, and much more. Since we did the interview in my dressing room you can hear the show in the background through the backstage speakers. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stuntman Falls 10 Meters into Arena

The unthinkable happened. Despite rigorous safety checks over the course of the past 17 years of stunts at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, one of the descenders that slowly lowers stuntmen into the arena during the stagecoach attack broke. Not the mechanism failed, but the cable attachment swiftly, cleanly, and without warning, broke as soon as the stuntman put his weight onto the descender. Apparently the clip that holds the end of the cable onto itself to form a loop into which the strap is clipped that the stuntman holds, failed. Nothing thus far indicates that the failure could have been foreseen in any way. It was simply a freak accident, a faulty piece of metal that failed. The intent of this article, in any case, is not to place blame but to relate a story of amazing instinct and reflex. Once the cable broke, Adam went into a free fall for 10 meters. He estimated he had about 1/2 second to react, during which time he knew he would have to roll as hard as he could the second he hit ground. So he did, and for a brief moment the impact knocked him cold. Then he moved, slowly rose to his feet, and unbelievably continued with the scene. An accident that should have left him severely injured and quite possible permanently crippled he not only walked away from, but finished an action-packed stunt scene! Immediately after, upon exiting the arena, medical staff escorted him backstage where his vital signs were monitored. He seemed a little dazed but was completely coherent. He spent a night or two in the hospital where he underwent more testing and was x-rayed. He has a hairline fracture on his 4th vertibrae and nasty bruising around his ankles, but other than that he is apparently unharmed. He was released and walked out of the hospital unaided. Today, three days after the event, he was backstage at the show. Ten meters, I kid you not, straight down, perpendicular to the ground. I watched the video and he hit like a sack of potatoes except for the fact he rolled hard to absorb the shock. It is the most remarkable thing I've ever seen. I frankly wouldn't have imagined anyone could walk away from a fall like that and wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it. In my view Adam deserves the award for the most amazing stunt ever to have been accidentally performed at the Wild West Show (and they number many).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Buffalo Bill with Mickey & Friends: the Video

For those curious about what the new Buffalo Bill with Mickey and Friends show looks like, here's a video I just ran across. It's a nicely edited little montage of our show as it now looks. Comments?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

RV Trip Around France part 1

We got back Thursday from our whirlwind RV tour around France. What a beautiful country. We visited castles, prehistoric caves, cathedrals, and Roman amphitheaters, drove along wide open highways, through congested cities and small medieval villages, and down terrifyingly narrow, steep and winding roads, sipped wine, ate cheese, and drank in the stunning countryside through wind, rain, and sun. We took a fair amount of video, some good and some less good, and a handful of photos. Along the way I learned that the French history and culture is fascinating, the people are usually warm and friendly, and the architecture, art, wine, cheese, and countryside are stunning. But of all the things I applaud France and the French for, there's one thing that keeps popping up: with the exception of the Natural History Museum in Paris, the French seem to struggle at the art of taxidermy. With this in mind, I present to you one of my favorite photos from our journey, from the Rock Fort in the Dordogne, on proud display at the exit of a fort castle we visited built into a cliff dwelling site that had been inhabited since Neanderthal times.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You, Your Brain, Me, and We

This is an excellent video worth watching, about a brain anatomist who has a stroke and experiences brain malfunction from the inside. The result of her discovery may both surprise and uplift you. Does more than you think.

Hookers for Jesus

Actors, it can be said, rent their bodies, voices, and souls to producers in a way similar to prostitutes. Of those who go the next step and actually exploit themselves sexually for perceived competitive advantage in legitimate entertainment, many become involved in the sex industry. Annie became a high-class Las Vegas hooker, making big money and nearly losing her soul before a near-death experience finally lead her to Jesus. She founded "Hookers for Jesus" to help other girls in her situation. I'm not a religious guy but I like the title "Hookers for Jesus." It's a great story and, for me, what salvation is all about.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

As a Boy, Walt Disney Met Buffalo Bill Himself

I ran across a book review in The Sun New York written by Carl Rollyson for Neal Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Biography, in which Walt Disney's recounts a childhood memory of personally meeting Buffalo Bill. I thought I'd reprint part of the book review here and let you be the judge of how Disney's meeting with Buffalo Bill argues for or against the inclusion of Mickey in our new show, Buffalo Bill's Wild West with Mickey and Friends. I've highlighted parts that seem particularly intriguing.

"Walt Disney was in the business of branding the world with a powerful mix of nostalgia for the past and Epcot dreams of the future and confecting the literal space where fantasy met reality. I say literal because in "Fantasia" Mickey Mouse mounted the "(real) podium and shook hands with the (real) conductor Leopold Stokowski."
Collyson: Mr. Gabler is quoting the art critic Robert Hughes, who credits Disney with inventing pop art. Perhaps, but what is most striking in Mr. Hughes's description is that the word "real" appears in parentheses. Stokowski is real, but he is also the product of Disney's imagination. And the conductor is just as honored to meet Mickey as any child would be. This is an astonishing moment in the history of art in which photography and animation converge...

...The biographer seduced, it seems to me, by Disney's desire to backdate, so to speak, every element of his life to suit the contours of Disneyland. Disney's recollection of his Midwestern boyhood, spent partly in the small Missouri town of Marceline:
... In Marceline he was awaiting the parade for Buffalo Bill's visiting Wild West Show when Buffalo Bill himself stopped his buggy and invited Walt to join him. "I was mighty impressed," Walt later wrote.
...What about that meeting with Buffalo Bill? I checked Mr. Gabler's sources, and he has only Disney's word for it. Of course, Disney wanted us to believe that he had reached out and touched a great mythic figure. It was part of Disney's destiny that Buffalo Bill should acknowledge him, part of our destiny that Disney should meet greatness, and part of the biographer's fervent wish that his subject's story have this kind of portentousness. Perhaps it is all true, or perhaps Disney just watched Buffalo Bill pass by and made up the rest...

Read a Press Release for the New Show

I found this English translation of a French press release for the new show, from DLRP Fans:

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France — It’s a grand premiere! From 4th April 2009, Mickey and his friends, Minnie, Goofy and Chip ‘n’ Dale invite guests to join them at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

They allow the audience to relive the conquest of the American West and to meet Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley and the cowboys of the Wild West.

Right from the moment they arrive, guests will be welcomed by Mickey and invited to step into a souvenir photo to capture a memory of this evening filled with adventures and unforgettable encounters.

Before entering the arena, the audience can enjoy a festive ambiance in the company of Sheriff Goofy and a live musical act.

It’s showtime!

Just as Walt Disney presented his film to the public, Auguste Durand-Ruel, the master of ceremonies of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, presents the show alongside Mickey, Minnie and their friends Goofy and Chip ‘n’ Dale.

All throughout the dinner show, Mickey and his friends will take part and join the audience in their epic adventure across the wild American West.

Wearing their cowboy hats and encouraged by Mickey and his friends, parents and children will support the colour of their “ranch” in several games and events held in the area.

The unique participation of Mickey and friends in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show will transport the audience into a grand celebration of the West!

A Collection of Guest Pre-reactions



The buzz is starting to spread about Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show with Mickey and Friends. Check out the Magic Forum for a discussion on the subject prior to its start, or DisBoards for some pirated photos (scroll down to response #12 for photos of characters in the show).

Ex-BB Steve Rally in Pirate Show Promo

Steve's been playing Sebastian the Black, a pirate in a Pirate show in Buena Vista California for several years now. I received an email saying he's around 1,100 shows so far. Here's a video promo of the show. I notice there are no cartoon characters in his show.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The New Show Will Probably Succeed

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show with Mickey and Friends is already a week old counting from the "soft opening" (it officially opens April 4, 2009). Here's the part I am reluctant to admit: assessed objectively, and theatrically speaking, the Disney characters in the show are not an abomination and do not destroy the integrity of the human performers. In fact, for a Disney audience, their presence works in most parts of the scenes they are in. They are not offensive and their presence does not emasculate the authentic elements of the show.

But let's keep that between you and me. I'm still uncomfortable, as a de facto ambassador of the Old American West, talking to a plastic head that "speaks" without moving its lips by bobbing its head to the rhythm of a pre-recorded voice track - as if it were real and we are in the Old West. However, when I pretend it's real the audience plays along and the theatrical convention works. That's always the case in theatre. I'm only "Buffalo Bill" to the degree my fellow actors and I pretend I am. Commitment by the actors to believing the unbelievable is what creates the illusion and allows the audience to suspend their disbelief and accept the "reality". Then we all look like theatrical geniuses and the experience for the guests is magical.

The opening scene with Auguste works because he pretends the characters are real, but there's more to it than that. The characters' giant smiles are critical. Psychology studies show that when we see someone smile we have a reflex to smile ourselves, creating an instant rapport. (Something we can all take home with us.) Add silly voices and animated movements and unless you're fully committed to being jaded you will likely find yourself grinning along. Once you grin, you've accepted their presence and you can pretend they're real. That's how the Disney magic works.

The Cattle Trail Scene, which I now call the Camp Scene, works with the characters in it. In addition to their contagious smiles, the characters dance and sing, which is what the characters do best. When the stunts join in dancing at the end, their movements and energy remind me of Zorba the Greek (a classic musical film featuring a rough old Greek codger who dances).

Theatrically speaking, the Camp Scene is an improvement over what the Cattle Trail scene had become - without the chickens, without the trick roping, with often aimless dialogue and without cowboys believing in it, the Cattle Trail scene had tended towards being long, listless, and lifeless. The Camp Scene is tighter and better theatre although it no longer reflects the living tableau of the American West that W.F. Cody envisioned. The cowboys retain their "authenticity" by establishing their identity in other scenes like the Cavalcade, Rodeo Games, and Cavalry.

My feeling is the scene is about 2 songs too long and the fight among the cooks, although excellent fight choreography, is under-provoked and makes for an awkward introduction to the Disney characters. The Autistic Coordinator ... woops! I mean the Artistic Coordinator (Freudian slip) sorry about that ... has assured me that the fight feels contrived because the costume of one of the cooks isn't different enough from the other cooks. As soon as his costume is sorted out, it'll all come together. OK. Whatever.

W.F. Cody saw his original Wild West Show not just as great entertainment, but as a living history lesson of the American West. His show shaped history almost as much as it reflected it. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Disney Village was never meant to have the same objective. Although based on the original, the intent beyond pure entertainment was not to tell the story of the West but the story of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. What always made the show work, regardless which century it played in or what the higher-minded objective, was it's entertainment value: it was and is an entrepreneurial venture. If our public wants Disney characters, give them Disney characters. In less than a week we'll ask the public their opinion and see if Disney's marketing research is accurate or not. I'm reluctant to admit they may have been right on this one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's the End of the Show as We Know It

I got to work last night at 4:30 pm and was handed a full page of new text to learn for the final performance of the original version of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France. I'm not sure who wrote the text but I'm going to hazard a guess he or she doesn't make a living as a writer. The intentions were good but it just didn't work. So I re-wrote the speech and during the final revue of the second show delivered it, with some improvisation of course. Because I am blessed with a short memory, I paused slightly in places for my brain to catch up, which had the affect of adding drama and emotion to the speech. You'll have to imagine that part as you read. Here's how the show's run, in it's original form, ended:

BUFFALO BILL (me)
(Old text) Folks, we hope you have enjoyed yourselves, and we hope you will all come back and return with us again to the legendary world of the pioneer days on the great American plains.
(New speech)
Although if you do, your experience will be very different than it was here tonight. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show first played under this roof 17 years ago, back in 1992. Some of the original cast are still with us here tonight. I want to thank them for their dedication and spirit (audience and cast applaud) and I want to thank all of our esteemed guests who have patronized our show over the years. But now, after more than 11,000 shows in front of more than 11 million people, tonight's performance marks the last of it's kind. Starting next week our show will feature Mickey Mouse and Friends (unsolicited hoot of laughter from the audience) That's the reaction I often get when I talk about this. Mickey and his Friends will add a new flavor of fun and magic to our show, while retaining all the excitement of the original. We hope you all come back and see our new show. But now, to mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, some of my Native American friends have asked to perform for you an inter-tribal song.
As Auguste Durand Rouel (Didier) translates, Kave, Wiley, and Petit Loup bring a drum onstage. Sitting Bull (Shawn) joins them as they perform a very moving Native American Indian song. The audience and cast explode in applause that lasts almost until the drum is carried off stage. Their last few steps are taken in heavy silence before I start my final text:
Just remember - wherever there's a sunset, there's a West. But there was only one... BUFFALO BILL'S WILD WEST !!

We all exchanged compliments and condolensces afterwards, and posed for a last-minute improvised group photo (thankfully our biggest fan, photographer, and all-around good guy Marc Veillard was there with his camera or even that would not likely have happened).
Now it's the next day and in two hours I'll be attending the dress rehearsal for the Mickey-fication of what had become a 17-year old institution, tradition, and legend in its own right. I still hold on to a shred of optimism, or maybe I should say I have the audacity to hope, that all this pomp and ceremony of a "final show" will fuel the version of Murphy's law that causes things to go the opposite of planned, and we will one day revert back again to a re-energized production of the original show. Until then, a big, fat, gritted-teeth, vein-popping, bone-crushing hug to our newest cast member..

M I C ... see you real soon!
K E Y ... why? Because we LIKE you!
M O U S E !!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Castmembers Start Bidding Farewell to the WWS


After 17 years and roughly 11,000 shows, tomorrow is the last day Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France, will be performed as it was originally conceived. After that, giant rodents and a dog will become integral members of the cast - not just any giant rodents and dog, but Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Goofy. They dance, sing, wave, and "speak" via recorded bites in various scenes. The Cattle Trail scene has become a full-blown Disney Character Ho-Down Musical.

The changes are an attempt by Disney's marketing team to capitalize on the "Mickey's Magical Party," a marketing initiative for 2009 that includes four new Character-driven shows in the Disney themeparks. The idea is to expand the audience of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show by targeting families with very young children - Disney's core demographic. Whether the show achieves it's objective or not, nobody knows for sure, but for the human cast who take pride in presenting a largely authentic reproduction of the original Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, the show will be over when Disney Characters arrive, and that's Friday March 20, 2009 - the "soft" opening. The show is closed Wednesday and Thursday, so Tuesday, tomorrow, is the last day. Already many among the cast have played their last traditional show since they will not be working tomorrow. The Native Americans are planning to sing a traditional native song to commemorate the end of the show as we know it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Character Dancers Visit the Wild West Show

(Picture courtesy of www.rorymcdyertravel.ie )
The dancers, choreographers, and other staff who will be participating in this year's project to integrate Disney Characters into Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Resort Paris, FRANCE, came to see the second show last night. Management laid out a large table in the outdoors break area, complete with white table cloth, drinks, and snacks, to welcome our new performers and supporting staff. The dancers are a very enthusiastic and likable group of young people whose positive energy should be welcomed, but some feel management missed an opportunity for basic team building and instead increased animosity towards management and the project itself by neglecting to invite the Wild West Show cast to the pre-show gathering. One stunt-team member allegedly complained that while the team for the characters got a white-tablecloth welcome and a free invitation to our show, the stunt team were required to attend a sober 3-hour training to work as a character in the Disneyland Park, and then had to dress up in a character costume and actually work for a shift.

Cowboy JM Falls of Horse, Folds in Half


Following the eyes of the other performers, I looked over and saw JM's butt and nothing else. He was on his back, folded in half, his backside facing the audience, the rest of him obscured. Fortunately his pants were still intact and in place. He remained frozen there for several seconds before finally unfolding and getting to his feet. Witnesses report that after JM caught the horse during the roping contest at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill), Disney Village, Disneyland Resort Paris, he turned towards the other performers, perhaps showing off a little, and his saddle turned. Whether he forgot to tighten his cinch or not remains unclear. JM maintained his balance for a few more strides, then fell only a few feet from the curtain in the corner of Gold Star. SH said JM didn't roll or bounce to absorb the energy of the impact, he just hit the ground with a solid thump and folded in half. Annie Oakley rushed down to make sure JM was OK. He was. I added a five-second penalty to his time.

"Cowboys Booted" is Partly Fictional

KK came into my dressing room last night between shows to inform me he had read Cowboys Booted from Dance Rehearsal . We discussed the article and I learned that it contained the following errors:

1. Cowboy "RL" was not at the rehearsal. This was apparently an assumption on my part, following the conversation I had with RL in which he suggested the cowboys could go work on a ranch if they didn't want to rehearse properly. RL rehearsed on a different day. Whether he danced at the rehearsal or not I didn't verify, but probably he did.

2. PT was not late to the rehearsal, he just wasn't there, either because he wasn't scheduled to rehearse that day, or because he called in to say he couldn't make it. I made that assumption because NR had been complaining he'd been working in place of PT regularly during the rehearsal schedule.

3. The implication that the cowboys were relegated to the floor as some sort of statement of social status is unfair. In a dance studio, it's normal to have few chairs to maximize the use of space. If their rehearsal was anything like the one I attended after writing the article, the dancers also sat on the floor, and the directorial/management team probably spent most of their time on their feet conducting the rehearsal. There were tables and other props on which cowboys could have sat if they tired of the floor. Or, of course, they could have chosen to participate, which would also have relieved them of the discomfort of sitting on the floor.

4. According to KK, many of the cowboys present were not scheduled to attend the rehearsal but came anyhow, for reasons not made clear to me. For those not asked to attend, asking them to leave has a different significance than the article implied.

Disclaimer: While I have tried to be adequately accurate in my reporting, this is all hearsay, and generally one-sided information. Initials are used to protect the privacy of those involved.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Earn Extra $$ Making Squirrel Lamps!


Considering the current dip in morale at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and the global financial crisis, I thought I'd keep an eye out for money-making opportunities for those of us who may be in need of a quick change of occupation or just a few extra dollars. What better future trade than making squirrel lamps? Other rodents including mice and chipmunks could be substituted as needed.

Disney Comic Features Buffalo Bill

The current project to integrate Disney characters into the story of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is not new. A simple Google search revealed at least two comic books featuring Disney characters in the Wild West. Click on the image above to see a comic written by comic book writer and illustrator Don Rosa that features Uncle Scrooge McDuck and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Disney characters on a cattle trail are also not new, as seen in "The Buckaroo of the Badlands," also by Rosa.

Cowboys Booted from Dance Rehearsal

Rehearsals have started for the Festival of Mickey Mouse, a company-wide initiative for 2009 that includes featuring Mickey, Minnie, Tic and Tac (Chip and Dale), and Goofy in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Apparently friction is already showing up, resulting in Cowboys being told to leave one of the recent dance rehearsals.

Disclaimer: Consistent with the lax journalistic procedure that has come to characterize the content of The Casual Reporter, this is all hearsay, and generally one-sided information. Initials are used to protect the privacy of those involved.
Here's the juice:

The Cowboys and Stunts arrived on time at the rehearsal (except for PT) and the cowboys were told they would not be required to dance if they didn't want to. They could just watch.

With the artistic coordinator, director, choreographer, and other self-important types supplied with chairs and the cowboys told to sit on the ground, the rehearsal started and continued for a couple hours, the Stunts and Cowboy "RL" dancing and rehearsing.

Finally, either JP or KK told the cowboys who were watching it was their turn to dance. BH reminded KK that he was told he wouldn't have to dance. An argument ensued, ending with JP alleging that BH had been paid to do nothing for the last two years (BH had been on training leave) and if he didn't want to be there, he should leave. BH left.

CA, who also sometimes plays Stunt, was ordered to dance. CA reminded KK that he was told he wouldn't have to dance. "Why did you come here then?" KK asked. CA replied that he was asked to and he was getting paid overtime. The lead cowboy pointed out to KK that the cowboys were indeed told they wouldn't have to dance. KK said that if they didn't want to be there they should all just leave then. So they did, except for RL, who later observed that there are plenty of ranches back in the states that the guys could work on if they didn't want to do their job here.

And now, a rousing Disney song to commemorate the cowboys' departure:
Hi ho, Hi ho! It's home from work we go!
(whistles)
Hi ho, Hi ho, Hi ho!

Money and Taxes in France


I ran across what seems to be a very informative site regarding money and taxes in France, among other things, and thought I'd share it with Casual Reporter readers, considering some of you may one day be interested in this type of information. The site is about buying and owning French property, but the taxation section covers a lot more, including the stuff we see on our payslips but can't decipher. Go to the site here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama "Tired of Your Motherf**king S**t"

Be warned - the video below contains very explicit language suitable only for adults.
It is an extract of several choice phrases from President Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father, read by the man himself for the audiobook version. Someone took the time to add some images.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ryan Arrested for Carrying a Pocket Knife

photo courtesy of www.scoutingbooks.com
Ryan's step-father worked in the show in 1992 when the show first opened, so he's been around France before. The other day he showed up to work ahead of time, signed in, and moseyed over to the Post Office in the train station to do some business before his shift started. He was wearing his cowboy hat, an unusual look in France that identified him as a probable member of the cast of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

In the train station two police officers approached him with an air of authority. Ryan figured they meant to question him. They ended up searching him and found a pocket knife in, well.. his pocket. They confiscated the knife and said that if the knife had been in his backpack there would be no problem but since it was in his pocket he'd have to come with them. Later Ryan commented that he could have had a 12" Bowie knife in his backpack and not been troubled, but a little pocket knife in his pocket got him arrested. They escorted him to the police station, booked him, fingerprinted him, and released him on foot. By then his shift was well underway so he ran from the police station to work. The police kept his knife. Maybe in their pocket.

At the time I wasn't clear where the sudden vigilance on the part of the police came from. Usually they're pretty cool but when something extraordinary happens they often change their demeanor and can be hyper-vigilant to a point bordering on harassment. It was only today, when I learned about the incident with the Indian (see below) did I come to the conclusion that perhaps Ryan's incident was partly influenced by the incident with the Indian. But I could be wrong.

Tomahawk Not Returned to Violent Indian



A friend of mine alerted me to this article, from le Parisien. This is a rough English translation. I'm not sure who the Indian is but I assume it's one from our show.

A Native American Indian from Canada appeared in front of Meaux's criminal court the day before yesterday for conjugal violence. The 26-year-old stuntman, employed by Disneyland Paris, was judged to have slapped his common law wife and to have tried to choke her before threatening her with a knife, on the night of 29-30 January, in Bailly-Romainvilliers, France.

Wearing very long dark hair, Boy Traveling Over Water, as he was named by the Blackfeet tribe, felt uncomfortable in the accused box. He seemed close to illness. Thanks to an interpreter who translated his English, the court was made to understand that the accused recognized the facts but that he was so inebriated with alcohol he did not remember the events.

"What she says is the truth, I am a weak man. Meeting Aurore is the best thing that has ever happened at me. " His common law wife, eight months pregnant, did not file a complaint.

Six months of prison, four suspended on probation required.

"The reassuring point is that he is conscious of the gravity of the situation. He does not try to minimize. He needs help. I require [him to serve] six months in prison among which four suspended on probation. I also ask for the seizure of the tomahawk which, if it was not used in this violence, was used in other contexts," commanded the deputy prosecutor, Emilie Goyet.

The Indian's partner, terrorized by the weapon, had hidden it. This did not prevent Mrs. Julia Moroni, the defense counsel, from demanding the restoration of this "domestic object".

"This dossier of conjugal violence is not uncommon. But there is a particular context: my client is a pure Indian from old stock, drinking since the age of 14, which is an atavism. He drinks before and after the show with his colleagues."

The court opted for six months prison, suspended with probation. And the tomahawk was seized.

The Parisian

Toddler Trades Stock with E Trade

I don't know how many of you have seen this commercial, but I find it hilarious. Worth watching.