Sunday, January 24, 2021

When Ducatis and Mojave Shamans End Up In Happy Accidents

 January 24, 2021

   It's not easy to capture a dust devil on paper. Or, for that matter, in person.

Daily Whip Out Study: "Dust Devil #305"

   It is a subtle tease in both cases. I once watched, enraptured, as a Mojave shaman coaxed one onto the back of his Ducati. As he rode off laughing, he turned to me and said, "Be careful Batchuk, that is powerful peyote."

Daily Whip Out: "Mohave On A Ducati"

   "Batchuk" is Hualapai for "Boy who makes us laugh."

   But back to capturing a dust devil on paper. It seems like it would be easy: just draw a tube of brown air ascending up into the sky. But, actual dust devils aren't that sharply delineated. They are full of dust particles rising in a swirling, airborne mass of air. They are transparent, thus the many ghostly references of evil spirits coming out of the ground. I've done more than a few, with mixed success.

Daily Whip Out Study: "Dust Devil #306"

Apaches And Dust Devils

   The oldtime Apaches believed these dust devils were evil spirits that emerged from the underground. To this day members of the Sinagua tribe take off their hats and place them on the ground between themselves and the approaching funnel. The Mexicans of Sonora call them "remolinos," the twisting clouds of dust are to be respected and those of the faith make the sign of the cross toward the approaching swirling mass. More specifically, some Sonorans believe the devil himself is busy underground making a commotion and his movements have seeped up through the soil into the air.

Daily Whip Out:
"The Last Place An Apache Wants to Be"

   Whenever I have captured a dust devil (on paper), it has mostly been because of a Happy Accident. This is an artist term used to describe what happens when we are trying to achieve something and a completely different effect emerges, in spite of our best efforts.

"Most of the good stuff I did were gifts. It wasn't me. They pass through me. So if your soul is open to it, and you're ready, then it'll come through. Even if your technique sucks, somthing will come through."

—John Lurie, "Painting With John" HBO

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Land-Locked Pirates In The Sierra Madre

 January 23, 2021

   Just watched "News of The World." Disappointing. One of the main problems with current Westerns is they look too drab. Everyone looks like they are fresh out of a homeless shelter and all the interiors are underlit and shabby. Some of this is authentic, of course, but it has been taken too far, in my estimation. The one exception to the rule is "Tombstone" (1993) which—thanks to Kevin Jarre listening to the advice of Jeff Morey—portrayed the Cowboys as "land-locked pirates." Thus, Curly Bill (Powers Boothe at his very best) shined. Big. Time. 

   And, by contrast, one of the reasons "Wyatt Earp" is inferior is because the same said Cowboys are dressed in the traditional browns and grays, supposedly because Kevin Costner had been upstaged by The Sherrif of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991) and he didn't want a repeat. 

   Anyway, here's another angle into the pirate analogy:

Daily Whip Out:

"Land-Locked Pirates In The Sierra Madre"

(With apologies to Ed Mell for the canyon poach)


   There's something here to be inspired about: flashy serapes, big old spurs, flapping sombreros, bigger-than-life characterizations. Call it pirate flair. Something creative at least. The last thing Westerns need right now, is to look tired and old. Lean on the flair, add a pinch of Steam Punk, anything to give it new life. You can still have the settlements out in the sticks looking bedraggled, but have some contrast, on the train, in the depot, at the opera. As it is now, everything is too one-note.

   Thus endeth my notes.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, January 22, 2021

Daily Whip Outs In Honor of The Super Anomolic Alignment

 January 22, 2021

   Last night at 9:21 it was the twenty-first minute of the twenty-first hour of the twenty-first day of the twenty-first year of the twenty-first century. Did I stay up for it? Naw. Too late for me.

   So, in honor of this momentous, number-centric anomolic alignment (yes, I just made that up) let's celebrate, post-haste with some Super Anomolic Whip Outs.

Daily Whip Out:

"The Super Anomolic Alignment"

   Of course, some alignments are more celebratory than others.

Daily Whip Out: "A Hoot & A Hollar #4"

   A frontier female celebrates leaving the constraints of the Old World behind.

   Sometimes when I let my mind go, it goes to places that are unconventional, some might even say, sacreligious.

Daily Whip Out:

"The Virgin of Hang On Lupe"

   When I first visited Nogales, Sonora in the mid-sixties, a bar band in La Roca did a rendition of "Hang On Sloopy" in perfect English but they changed the chorus to "Hang On Lupe." After the song ended I went up to congratulate the lead singer and he said to me, "Yo no hablo Ingles."

   How many cowskulls can you do without being contrasted and compared to Georgia O'Keefe? Well, for one thing, you can come at it from a completely different direction.

Daily Whip Out: "Bugeyed Cowskull"

   Sometimes I am inspired by song lyrics.

"He treated her good 'til the sun and the whiskey went down."

—Steel Woods, "Straw In The Wind"

Daily Whip Out: "One Drunk Ugly"

   I have been around my share of ugly and mean drunks. I played honkytonks for over three decades and I have often wondered if there isn't a Drunkard Union somewhere that makes sure there is at least one drunk ugly per bar in the entire United States. If there is, in fact, such a union, they are doing a damn fine job.

"Things I never want to say after Covid-19? I can't hear you. You're frozen. It's lagging."

—Vicki Jenkins, a dance teacher in New Jersey on the trials and tribulations of teaching on Zoom

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Uno The Leg Warmer

 January 21, 2021

   Had a fun day today with these two.

Kathy and Uno

   I call him the "leg warmer."

   Here's a feature I have wanted to do in True West for a long time.

The Day Tom Mix Died

   What was he thinking when he hit eighty on that dirt road from Oracle to Florence? Perhaps he was thinking of one of his six wives (he was married seven times). The King of The Cowboys knew his yellow, super-charged 1937 Cord Phaeton could fly, but, up ahead, a bridge was out and when he came over the rise, he probably realized one thing: his hotrod wouldn't make it across that chasm, even at eighty. The highway department crew working on the bridge and eating their lunch in the shade of a palo verde tree could not believe their eyes. There's more, but we'll cover it in depth in an upcoming edition of True West.

   Finished up another firescape.

Daily Whip Out: "Fire Rider"

   Cloud and a little rainy. Wish we had more, and so does this guy.

Drawing The Light

   One of the surviving saguaros down by the Hoss house. Appears to be beckoning the light, or the rain. I know how she feels.

"It's crucial to know where the work stops and your life begins."

—Ann Reinking (1949-2020)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Facebook Live With BBB And Billy the Kid

 January 20, 2021

   Did an interview with Ken Amorosano via Zoom. Keep in mind that Ken is a pro-shooter, Hollywood experienced guy who has thousands of dollars worth of video equipment, including cameras, lighting, sound equipment and editing bays to whip up world class effects and product. So, imagine my surprise when we did the interview, below, on our computers. Him taping me sitting in front of his computer, me talking into the red light at the top center of my computer screen. The scary thing is, it looks pretty good.

   Check it out.

Lookout and Listen Up!

"Call me crazy, but the stories of the Kid made me a better person and, by his dark example, a braver person."


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Snow Flurries Amidst The Puppy Trails

 January 19, 2021

   Started snowing at 6:44 this morning. How do I know this? Because it is my job to get up at five, go out to the studio and let this guy out to do his business.

One Spoiled Pee Pee Head Puppy

  The snow flurries quickly turned to rain and we got a nice soaking until daybreak.

"Funny is money."

—Old Hollywood Saying


Monday, January 18, 2021

Bass Reeves & The Choctaw Lighthorse

 January 18, 2021

   My morning sight. Newspapers in the driveway, pink clouds on the horizon and two sentinels at the entrance to Cactusland. 

   Life is good.

   Working on a couple of concepts and ideas. Here is a sneak peek at our Bass Reeves coverage in the next issue of True West magazine.

Choctaw Lighthorse Policemen, 1885

   If there's a cooler name than Choctaw Lighthorse, I don't know what it is. That is the name of the Native policemen who dispenced justice in the Choctaw Nation. Has anyone ever done them as the subject of a movie? I don't recall seeing them, front and center, anyway. Well, mark my words, that is going to change.

Daily Whip Out:

"Bass Reeves & The Choctaw Lighthorse"

U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves leads six Choctaw Lighthorse Indian Police into the Chickasaw Nation. They are on the trail of Sonny Sixkiller, who murdered T. S. Morgan at Blue Tank in the Choctaw Nation.

"There is a dark side to our history. But those who see it only in terms of the warts are as one-sided as those who only see the glory."

—Elmer Kelton

“There is a dark side
to our history. But those who see it only in
terms of the warts are as one-sided as those
who see only the glory.”
“There is a dark side
to our history. But those who see it only in
terms of the warts are as one-sided as those
who see only the glory.”
“There is a dark side
to our history. But those who see it only in
terms of the warts are as one-sided as those
who see only the glory.”

"Why is Miss Universe always from earth?"

—Steven Wright