Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rear Ending Encounters With Old Men

April 28, 2016
   I got rear ended by an old fart at School House Road and Cave Creek Road yesterday. Earlier that morning, I had just finished reading "When Breath Becomes Air," a book about a Kingman kid who died too young. I first heard about this New York Times best seller at my art opening at Cattle Track back in early March. A woman took a look at my book "The 66 Kid" and said, "You must know the author from Kingman who wrote 'When Breath Becomes Air,'" and I admitted I had never heard of it, or the author.

   In the Seattle Airport last Sunday I bought a copy of the book at Hudson News and read most of it on the plane ride home. Of course, I had to fight back tears at least five times in the first 100 pages. It is a very sad and sobering read—Paul Kalanithi describes as only a doctor can, what it's like to die of cancer, at the tender age 36. So, needless to say, having just finished the book, Wednesday morning, I was in a funky mood on my way into work. Speeding up Cave Creek Road. I was late for a meeting at the office, so I careened by an old fart in the left lane, passing him on the right. As I glanced over at him, I thought to myself, "Pay attention. This could be your last morning on earth and this is the guy who just might do you in."

   As I shot by him, I noticed a woman up ahead, walking a small dog, crossing at the stop sign at School House Road. There is not a crosswalk there, but I realized she was going to impede my Texas Leaguer hop through the intersection, so I quickly turned into the left lane so her slow walking wouldn't impede me. And that's when the old fart ran right into the back of me.


The Geezer And The Damage Done


   I got out to inspect the damage: he had buckled my Boze customized license plate and bruised the plastic bumper in a couple spots. The old geezer (he was probably at least six months older than me), was slow getting out, and I said, "What happened?" He said, "I didn't know you were going to stop," and I said, "Well, there is a stop sign here." He sheepishly said, "I'm sorry, I didn't see it." Which took a lot of the sting out of my anger, so I said, "I'm going to live with it," and, rather than wait for his insurance card and the police I got into my car and sped on to the office.

   So, that was the good encounter with a ramming old Man.

   Two hours later, I'm circling Terminal Four at Sky Harbor Airport and I get a text from Paul Andrew Hutton saying, "just landed." Well, he was supposed to be on the northside of the terminal at 11:30 and it was 11:28, so I fought my way around the terminal, and down to the cell phone lot, which is two terminals away and perhaps five minutes—in heavy traffic—from Terminal Four.

   Some seven or eight minutes later, I get another text: "I'm on the north side, door #4." So I took off, fighting my way back into traffic, slugging it out to make it past Terminal Three and back to Terminal Four (100,000 people fly in and out of here daily!). I pull up to Terminal Four Arrivals, door number 4 and there is no Hutton. I look frantically around and decide to get out and open up the back so I can stall with the airport security folk. As you may know, "Keep moving! Keep moving!" is their constant refrain. I kept looking for Hutton as I opened the rear door on the Flex and all of a sudden I hear this loud blast of a horn right behind me. I jump and look back over my shoulder and see Old Man #2, who has blasted his horn to warn me he is going to squeeze by me on the right, between me and the curb. Without even thinking, I took two steps to my right, and as he slid by me, I slammed the heel of my hand against the driver's side window and yelled, "Don't you honk at me you intelligent and sweet old man!" Full disclosure: I might have added something about his IQ and his mother, I don't remember. I was too mad.

   Well, the old man didn't like this and he opened his car door and got out, but instead of getting in my face, he started yelling, "Help! Police! This man is attacking me!"

   I tried to calm him down, but he wouldn't stop. "I want the police! He almost broke my window. " Finally, turning to me he said, "You'll be sorry you messed with me." To which I said, "Well, you've already got your wish there."

I went back to my car and got inside. A black woman security officer came around to me and said, "Are you Bob Boze Bell?" And I said yes, and she smiled and said the irate codger has insisted on the police showing up. "So," she said with some warmth (she was very sweet actually), "you need to come over here and wait." So I did. About this time Hutton calls on his cell, "Where are you?" "I'm at door #4," I say, before adding, "But now it looks like I'm going to jail." Turns out the number 4 is over every single door and represents Terminal 4 and that both of us were at the wrong door (Hutton was at door # 6).

By this time I had calmed down and apologized and reached out my hand to shake. "I'm not shaking your hand," he said, his lower lip quivering, "you are a fool." I don't know why, but I said, "How old are you?" He wouldn't tell me, but insisted he was older than me. Two police officers showed up and took a statement from him: "He attacked me. He could have broken my window. It was very loud." The policeman said calmly, like he was talking to a child, or an old man; "Is your window broken?" "No, but it could have been." The cop looked at me, "And your version?"

  "He honked at me, I overreacted and slammed my hand into his window and I'm sorry." I reached my hand out again to shake, but he wouldn't take it.

   Two hours later, I posed for this photo with Juni Fisher and Paul Hutton at the Scottsdale Museum of the West:


BBB, Juni Fisher and Paul Andrew Hutton

"Even if you are perfect, the world isn't."
—Paul Kalanithi, Kingman boy

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Continuing Education 101: Outrage Is The Engine

April 26, 2016
   Kind of depressing how much I didn't know about telling good stories. All the knowledge is out there for anyone to gather if they would just take the time to find the answers. For me, it took 45 years to decide to look, but as they say, better late than never. For one thing, I didn't know how mean you need to be in order to make good, believable characters.


Daily Whip Out: "He Crossed The Threshold Into a Dark World"

   Another thing I learned is you need constant conflict, and it helps if someone is very angry:


Daily Whip Out: "Listen to me, you flat-faced son-of-a-bitch!"


Outrage Is The Engine
   Mickey wants to win, at least once, but sometimes when you lose, you win.


Daily Whip Out: "Mickey With The Head of Pedro"

Mickey: "Now do I belong?"

   Ah, no, actually, you don't belong. Sorry. Another proven winner is withholding key information:


  Daily Whip Out: "What He Saw From The Ridge Stunned Him"

Mickey Is Maligned
   You can't diss your main character enough. If we want to read about someone they have to be complex. Give them good flaws:


Horn: "Even his name is a joke. His real name is Felix Ward. His mom is Meskin' and his old man is Irish."

   But your main character needs some skills to overcome all the obstacles thrown at him:


Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Just Laughed at The False Trails The Kid Had Created"

   People want to be manipulated, but they want it to be good. Make a twist on the usual Western cliche:

Free: "I like horse."

Young: "What's your favorite?"

Free: "Mustangs are a little tough."

Young: "I agree."

Free: "Quarter-horses taste best."

Young [stunned]: "Excuse me?"

Horn: "Yep, he's Irish, all right."
 

"There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out."
—Old Vaquero Saying
 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Petting A Caterpillar & Drawing Sagauros From Cactusland

April 25, 2016
   Flew back from Seattle this morning and landed in sunshine. The rain in Seattle was more like a vacation to us because we love rain, and Boy, do they get the rain. Here we are out for a walk when we came across a caterpillar crossing the road. "Why don't you pet him?" his mother mused. So, of course Weston did just that:


Weston Petting A Caterpillar

   Of course, when he "petted" the caterpillar, it fuzzed up and scared him, but that was cool as well.

   We also got in some drawing time on his play room easel. So, in tandem, we drew a pretty good saguaro. The arm flailing out to the right is Weston's and I must say it gives the drawing a much needed balance.


Weston and BBB Daily Whip Out: "Saguaro In Cactusland"

  We were in Seattle for three days and had some wet fun. Here we are at the breakfast nook this morning having our last breakfast together before going to the airport.


Mike and Deena, Weston and Grandma Ha ha

"Don't get it right, just get it written."
—James Thurber

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mohawk Biker Helmet Off Roading Grandchild Shreds Tall Grass

April 23, 2016
   He's a bad boy off-roader, shredding through the tall grass and taking no prisoners on his Strider bike:


Weston Allen Catching Air In The Tall Grass in Seattle

   He's not even three but nobody gets in his way, unless it's a bug, or something else that stops his forward movement.


"That's all right grandpa," the mohawk helmeted rider said with some gravitas.

"It's a wise man that knows his grandfather."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Wild Hunch Bunch

April 23, 2016
   Yesterday, Kathy and I flew to Seattle to meet up with a certain, hard-ridin' cowboy:


The "Fast" Ridin' Weston Allen

   The boy loves his horse. A generous gift from our friend Linda Stewart. Fortunately this horse stays in the house and doesn't roam too far out of the neighborhood.

   Meanwhile, I've been busy studying narration and storytelling.

Conflict and Cliffhangers
   Just finished an excellent book, "Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish," by James Scott Bell (no relation). And one of the takeaways is that conflict is the oxygen to a good story. And, one of the exercises is to take a movie you love and re-watch it, examining the underlining themes to see what makes it tick. So I took a fresh look at this classic:


The Wild Bunch pays off a wild hunch

   Wow! Talk about conflict. Two gangs (the Wild Bunch and a gang of thieves paid by a corrupt railroad tycoon) and a corrupt Mexican army officer, Mapache (and, according to Chris Casey, he  is played by the director of "Malquerida." Emilio Fernandez, who was allegedly also the model for the Oscar statuette when he was a young stud) collide in the waning days of the Wild West. Not only is there conflict between the gangs, but there is barely restrained contempt within each gang, as each gang member seethes anger at each other. The basic plot is classic conflict: a former Wild Bunch gang member, Deke Thorton (Robert Ryan) has been hired, or, rather, given a temporary reprieve from the Yuma hell hole prison (where he is whipped), by the corrupt railroad tycoon, who gives him a couple weeks to kill his best friend ( William Holden). Deke hates his scallawag crew: two of the worst are Ben Coffer (Strother Martin) and T.C. (L.Q. Jones) and they fight each other in almost every scene. In Pike's gang, even saddling up is a conflict. It's wall to wall conflict on top of conflict. And, in the end, the twisted plot and the themes and, even the moral, can be boiled down to two words:

"Let's go."
—Pike Bishop (William Holden) to his crew at the end of "The Wild Bunch"

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Hardnosed Reality of Stagecoach Travel In Arizona in 1873

April 22, 2016
   Had a visit yesterday from a gentleman who has photos, letters and correspondence from his kin, Mr. Commadore Perry Crawford who travelled from San Diego to Silver City, New Mexico in 1873.

   Mr. Crawford started by steamer, on the "Prince Alfred," in Victoria, British Columbia on December 27 of 1872 and arrived in San Francisco on New Years morning. He "tarried nine days" then took off again by steamer to San Diego, 450 miles south. He "stopped for a few hours at San Diego, then "took the stage for Fort Yuma on the Colorado River." He tells us he is on a four-horse stagecoach and they stop "every 12 or 15 miles" at a stage station where "we changed horses." This is how we picture stage travel throughout the west, but wait. From Arizona City (later to be called Yuma) he takes a "2 horse concern" that is "not so comfortable." However, from Tucson to Rios Mimbres, the "U.S. Mail and Stage line had degenerated. . .into a 2 wheeled one horse springless cart drawn by a miserable mule—said mule having to travel 60 miles without rest or change—save one hour to feed." He goes on to say this conveyance went on for "three days and nights—making in that time 230 miles, without sleep."

   Totally changes your ideas about travel in Arizona, doesn't it?

Daily Whip Out: "An Arizona Stagecoach Bristling With Armed Guards"

"And now I am done with Arizona I will give you my opinion of it—formed by what I saw. It is the most barren, desolate and uninviting part of the west that I have visited."
—Commadore Perry Crawford

Thursday, April 21, 2016

B-B-B-Badges?

April 21, 2016
   B-B-B-Badges? Yes, I have many steenking name tag badges. In fact, over a 40-plus-year-career I have saved them all. And thanks to Curator Cal, they are "saved" in not one, but two, air sealed boxes.



Forty Plus Years of BBB-Badges

   Not sure exactly what it means (besides convincing proof that I'm a borderline hoarder), but I do plead guilty to having a tendency, as my partner Ken likes to say, of showing up for "the opening of an envelope."

   The two green "Hot" badges at top are from 9•11•07 at Phoenix International Raceway when I was a guest of Jeff Gordon's NASCAR racing team. Turns out the couple who drove Jeff's RV from racetrack to racetrack were big fans of Tombstone and my books and they invited Kathy and I out to see the races from Jeff's picnic table. That was a glorious day when I got to view Mrs. Jeff Gordon, who was breathtaking in her own right. One side note, she seemed rather bored with the race after a while, so we had that in common.

Our Frank Hamer issue went to the printer on Monday after Dan The Man Harshberger did 17 different takes on the cover. Take a gander:



15 of the 17 covers Dan The Man Designed (the final layout isn't in this batch,
 but the final image we went with is in the first row, second from right).


   Shocking to hear that Prince has passed. However, closer to home another local Tucson legend also has left the building:



Rusty Terry, at left, a Tucson drumming legend has passed. He was 68.

   I used to see Rusty at the Hi-Ho Club, the Dunes, the Cedars, The Embers and the Doll House, all niteclubs along Speedway Blvd. in Tucson. Here is the band I was in during that same period:


The Generation rockin' it at The Doll House in Tucson, circa 1967. On lead guitar, the late Charlie Christie at left, and Cliff Feldman on lead vocals (third from left). I've forgotten the other dude's names. Yes, those are tiger-striped Ludwigs I am playing (just like Ringo Starr's).


   Got up at 4:30 this morning, wrestling with narration and story and plot for our Mickey Free and The Hunt for The Apache Kid story. Here's one clever—and convoluted—answer to the question, what is plot?

"It's the gradual perturbation of an unstable homeostatic system and its catastrophic restoration to a new and complexified equilibrium."
—Jack Barth