This photo is not doctored;  It’s just another eerie “Bonfire Rorshach” in which EVERYONE sees the horse — Ears, head, nostrils, body, legs — Do you see it?  Do you see “The Accidental Traveler,” aka “Flaming Traveler” in the flames?

Byrne-ing Down the House — Neuheisel is no Talking Head Speaking in Tongues.  ‘E-no’s what he’s doing, and how to motivate a team… and a fan base.

This ain’t no party.  This ain’t no disco.  This ain’t no foolin’ around.

Watch out.  You might get what you’re after:  Something’s in the air tonight, as the Bruins want to set Westwood on fire (“Figuratively” says Neuheisel) after a win on Saturday night

Remember 13-9?  Remember how you felt that day, and the day after, and the day after that?  A lot of the Bruin players do, and Rick Neuheisel does too, and they all want to feel that way again, after Saturday night’s game at the Mausoleum.

Back then, NO ONE expected the Bruins to pull off the miracle upset.  This year, the spread is “only” 13, and lots of people expect UCLA to make a game out of it, including everyone in Westwood on Monday night (and lots of people off of Figueroa too).  UCLA held their annual BeatSC Bonfire and Rally Monday Night, and thanks to a renewed sense of confidence — and to Neuheisel being Neuheisel — it was one of the best bonfires ever, and I’ve been to about a dozen of them (but not last year).

The organizers did four wise things before this year’s event even started:  1)  They held the festivities on the Intramural Field right next to Pauley;  2)  They held UP the festivities from the scheduled 9:30pm start until the Basketball game ended at 10-ish so that they could include all those extra Bruin fans;  3)  They sent me a VIP seating pass, so I (and all other alumni who are fanatical enough to attend a bonfire) could sit in front of the massive ocean of students; and 4)  For us VIP’s, they brought in a few 6-ft. Subway Subs.

Number 5 could be that there was no terrible, screeching “band” playing as a lead-up to the rally, but I did kind of miss the “live concert” atmosphere that the live bands used to provide, so let’s call that a push.

They started off the evening with a Modern Dance Troup made up of students, and then a group of Student (a capella) Singers who had won Spring Sing, and both acts were big hits, for students and alumni (including me) alike. 

Then it was announced that the UCLA Spirit Squad was going to come out.  The lights went down, but nothing happened.  Then the emcees came out and introduced the Chancellor instead.  Chancellor Block came out with his wife, and even though I was mad at the drop-off from Katie, Elise, Brianna, Michelle, et al to Mrs. Block, I still loved what the Chancellor had to say.  Actually, I am happy that he even is aware that there is a game, let alone a bonfire.  But what he said is that he is all about PROVIDING THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE, and that since losing is the best learning experience, he wanted to give sc their 4th loss of the season, so they can learn A LOT.

Instead of parading out every Bruin athletic team on campus to each lead an 8-clap, they paid tribute to all of the Sports by doing a really stupid little game.  They had one or two members of several different teams, including Football’s Jonathan Franklin and Jeff Baca, make themselves dizzy, do hopscotch, wrap themselves up in plastic wrap, pop a balloon between their bodies, and dunk their faces into cream pies.  It looked like a wild Japanese game show, on purpose.  I thought it was stupid, and that the Football players were being too un-macho and un-dignified.  I also thought the crowd quickly lost interest, and couldn’t really tell what was going on.  Nonetheless, it was still pretty funny to see a couple of guys’ faces covered in whipped cream, and the athletes seemed to have a good time, so even though it had nothing to do with beating sc in Football, I guess I’ll shut my pie-hole about it.

However, I can’t let the emcees slide.  I wish the SAA would give the reins of this show to Geof Strand (who was conspicuously absent) instead of these two students who do lame skits, corny jokes, and pretty much take away from the momentum of the night.  In fact, during one of their longer bits, students in the back just started chanting stuff on their own, as if nothing was going on up on stage at all.

But remember about 4 or 5 years ago, when some idiot complained, about MY complaints, about a poorly-organized scrimmage?  Yeah, sure you do.  Well, I don’t want to wake that dormant volcano.   To re-iterate:  It was a GREAT Bonfire.

And the second-best part of the Night?  They finally brought out the Spirit Squad.  Sadly, they only did a couple of numbers and then disappeared.  Maybe it was a long night, with the Basketball game and all.  And, they could have done 45 minutes, and I still would have wanted more.  I remember one year where the SAA presented some trophies, and the Cheerleaders were the presenters.  Nothing like that this year, but at least since I was in the front row Of the “VIP” seats, the flash actually worked a little bit, for once, and some of the photos came out halfway-decent.  You’ll see.

Can you believe that I said they were the SECOND-best part?  That’s because Rick Neuheisel knows how to steal the spotlight.

When Rick came out with the team, he went into a sort of musical monologue, spoken-word version of “Something’s in the Air Tonight,” like he was channelling Phil Collins.  The monologue matched up with the song, so that Rick echoed Phil on the word “Remember.”  It could not have been cooler.  He said that the team uses that song to get ready for a game, and that everyone needs to really come together as one entity in order to get the job done.  The song gets them all on the same page — and reminds them that they want to “remember” that 13-9 feeling.

Rick introduced Seniors Reggie Carter, Alterraun Verner, Terrence Austin, and Chane Moline, who all said a few words.  Reggie started, but when he referenced some recent trash-talking from trojan Taylor Mays, Neuheisel jumped in and stopped him before he gave troy any bulletin board material.  Carter then referenced a couch that someone set on fire in Westwood to celebrate 13-9, and said that THIS year, he wants to burn Westwood down, to which Neuheisel again quickly jumped in and said “Figuratively!!  Chancellor, there will be no vandalism!!”

Later, Neuheisel brought up one JUNIOR — Brian Price.  of course, I knew what Neuheisel was thinking, so I started the obligatory “One More Year!” cheer that college fans use to try to persuade players to stay in school instead of turning Pro early.  No one knows if Price is staying or going, but there is absolutely no doubt that Price could play on Sundays right now.  “That being said,” [wink, wink] I obviously hope that he stays, as he could be the difference between a good D and a bad D next year.

When it was time to actually set the torch to the bonfire, the speakers blared Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing.”  The Bruin fans — most of whom weren’t born when that song was recorded (but they heard it on “The Soprano’s” weak Finale) — must REALLY BELIEVE in the Bruins’ chances this weekend, because the whole crowd actually started singing along.  I haven’t heard that many people singing along to a Journey song since 1980-something, AT THE ROSE BOWL, where I went to see opening act Triumph, before BOC and Journey, if my memory is correct (but it probably isn’t.  It was probably Kansas or Styx).  All I know is that it sounded great on Monday night, and Steve Perry would have been proud.

All in all, it was a fun and entertaining Rally, that showed that the Bruin players are loose, confident, aware of the importance of The Rivalry, and ready to take it to sc on Saturday night.


A few quick notes before unleashing the photos —

Thankfully, Nikola Dragovic may NOT be SCum in Bruin clothing.  According to Drago’s lawyers, Nikola was acting in self-defense when he got into his altercation.  Apparently, the alleged “victim” chased Drago down, confronted, and threatened Drago (and a friend), and Drago had no choice but to protect himself.  Of course we can’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying scum, but I’m siding with Drago, since he’s been through this ringer before, and he most likely knows better than “starting” something like this… and you can hardly blame him for “finishing” it, although I wish he did it another way.

The Basketball team didn’t miss him TOO badly on Monday night, as Michael Roll hit 5 Three’s to lead UCLA over Pepperdine, 71-52.  Roll had 17 and Drew Gordon 18 in the rout, which wasn’t really a rout — The Bruin led only 46-41 in the middle of the second half.  But that’s when Roll, Gordon, James Keefe, Malcolm Lee and even Mustafa Abdul-Hamid tightened the screws, hit some shots, and pulled away in a hurry.  Abdul-Hamid was crucial, because Jerime Anderson cramped up.  Jerime made a few more dreadful plays, but also had some steller moments.  He made two very nice moves that led to shots in the paint, and he sank both of them.  One was a left-hander, and one was a soft floater that swished through.  Those two plays should in themselves quiet some people… At least, the people who can’t understand why he was even recruited in the first place.

And finally, I caught ONE PLAY from the Monday Night Football game before leaving for the Bonfire, and it just happened to be ex-trojan Brian Cushing of the Texans, getting flagged for a late hit out of bounds, on, of all people, the old trojan-killer extraordinaire, Vince Young.  Guess Cushing is still mad about that 4th quarter choke against VY’s Longhorns that cost troy the National Championship (just like 13-9 did).  Maybe Cushing  should cheap shot Reggie “Bad Lateral” Bush instead, next time Houston plays New Orleans.

Okay, without further ado, here is the first batch of 20 photos from the Bonfire.  All the photos enlarge when you click on them, and all the photos have hidden, mouse-over captions.  There’s only one featured player who’s identity is still a mystery… the guy who had to “Take Off That RED shirt.”  If anyone knows who it was, or recognizes him in the photos, please let me know.  

Not ALL of the FINE Bruin dancers are on the Spirit Squad.

These girls had moves like Milton Knox.  By the way, where WAS Milton last Saturday?

Give me a “U.”

“Hummers.”   Wait — Isn’t that the new version of “Hooters,” with singing waitresses?

Okay, so the singing co-eds are really cute, but the Spirit Squad is in another galaxy far, far away.  When Mollie puts someone in that uniform, magic happens.

I was FINALLY close enough for the flash to work.  Now if only I could get the flash to recharge itself in less than an excruciatingly-long 3 seconds!

They should have a stage with ramps so they can come out and be in the audince, like Bono.

When you look this good, it must be hard to get any sympathy for anything, even when your team loses the big game.

Her last bonfire!  Actually, I’m hacking into the school’s computer system and sabotaging her grades, so she has to repeat her Senior year.

Jonathan Franklin seems to be enjoying himself, watching his buddy eat it, and no, Franklin did NOT fumble the balloon.  Shut up.

No, this is not a reverse-Al Jolson/Ted Danson white-face gag;  It’s just a pie-eating contest, Bruin-style.

Neuheisel momentarily dumbfounded Reggie Carter by unexpectedly asking him to speak.  And then as Carter is explaining that he is shy and nervous, Neuheisel chimes in with: “Since when?!”


Neuheisel asked Alterraun Verner if he could please score ONE MORE Touchdown on Saturday night.  By the way:  Can you believe I know a Bruin fan who doesn’t think Verner will be good in the NFL?

Brian Price (right) wanted only one thing — For his teammate to take off that REDDDDD shirt!!!

There it goes!  He took off that REDDDDDDD shirt.

Someone in the crowd threw him up a BLUE shirt to put on instead.

And one more (for the ladies), as Rick re-assures himself that THIS team does not need to call Dr. Ting’s lab.

At least Terrence Austin thinks it’s amusing.  By the way, are the Bruins going to wear Blue on Saturday night?

One more year!  One more year!  For God’s sake, please: One more year!

Last one for today.  By the way, do you see the dead pirate skull in the upper-middle of this photo?  No?  Okay, maybe I’ve seen too many Johnny Depp movies lately.  Either way, thanks for playing.  Another 23 shots coming soon.


5 responses to “BURNING DOWN THE HORSE”

  1. Rick Avatar

    I don’t see the pirate skull, but it DOES look a bit like a bruin ripping the stuffing out of/devouring something in red and gold!
    Thanks for the detailed report of the festivities–I feel like I was there.

  2. Matt Avatar

    the player with the red shirt is Chinny Anyanwu.

  3. BirminghamBrave Avatar

    Your contributions speak for themselves. Keep up the good work!

  4. UCLADavid Avatar

    The bonfire was nice — eventually. I have to report, however, that the chants you heard from the back of the rally were coming from alumni, not students. The sound system was horrible, so many of us in the back could not hear the lame hosts. And the dance routine, student skits, and crazy game show went on way too long — over an hour! By that time, over 200 alumni had fled back to their cars. I agree overall the bonfire was great, but they should have started earlier with RN, the team, and the cheerleaders. However, this is not a complaint — just reporting what it was like from the cheap seats. I appreciate the students for putting on a nice bonfire, and all Bruins must stay focussed on the main goal of rooting for our team to BEAT SC!!!!

    But please, please, please don’t ever let those hosts emcee another event! 🙂


  5. Richard Urbanowicz Avatar
    Richard Urbanowicz

    Great commentary, great photos … thanks from all of us up here in the Bay … we’ll be screaming at The Stadium Pub and/or Oakland Airport Hilton Sports Edition for our boys in blue. Keep up the good work … there are many loyals needing a daily dose of the “Beat the SCum” medicine.

    Always enjoy Trashing the Trojans.


    As always, Go Bruins !!!