Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Whole Bunch of Wild Bunch Covers

May 22, 2019
   Well, here we go again on a cover hunt for the August issue with the intrepid Dan The Man Harshberger leading the charge. Our art director has already done seven cover mockups so far. Here's my fave, so far:

   Some on the staff think we should zero in on Redford's red glare, like this:

   My concern with this one, above, is the hat is lost and he looks like a big, bad surfer (Joe) from 1968. Then there's this take:

Straight Up Western style

 What do you think?


BUTCH CASSIDY (Paul Newman): Then you jump first.

THE SUNDANCE KID (Robert Redford): No, I said.

BUTCH: What's the matter with you?

SUNDANCE: I can't swim!

BUTCH: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!

Bonus Butch:

BUTCH: Kid, there's something I ought to tell you. I never shot anybody before.

SUNDANCE: One hell of a time to tell me.

“Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”
—William Goldman

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Control Your Children If You Can Por Favor

May 21, 2019
   Flew back from Seattle yesterday and after landing at Sky Harbor, Kathy and I decided to try an old standby.

We tried. Believe me, we tried.

   In the end they have a mind of their own. One kid moved to Seattle and the other to Thailand. So much for the "control" theory.

   This is a sign, above, in Rosita's on McDowell Road. We haven't been there in a decade, or two, but decided to give the Mexican food joint another try. I had the mole and it was quite good.

   Lots of reflection on the old days.

Bullhead City aerial, early 1960s

   This photo was posted on Facebook by Andy Sansom, a Bullhead river rat from way back. This part of the river has exploded with growth. Virtually all of the Nevada casinos were built on that naked strip on the left bank of the river.

   Big storm blew thru yesterday with a report of hail up the road, a piece.

Sunset over Ratcliff Ridge

      Heading back to graphic novel territory. Got a new plan, based on the old plan, but tempered with the fire and ice of Game of Thrones.

"Novels rise out of the shortcomings of history."
—The German Romantic Novalis

Monday, May 20, 2019

Casper Babypants, Honkytonk Frances & The Uber Lecrae History Lover

May 20, 2019
   In Seattle for a birthday party.

Honkytonk Frances

   She's two. And she knows it. Meanwhile. . .

The Chess Champion

    He's almost six and he handily beats grandpa (check out the board, Grandpa Ha ha in black).

   We watched the finale of "The Game of Thrones" last night. A full report later.

   Took off for home this morning.

The Uber Wavers including a couple fans of Casper Babypants

   I'll explain the Casper Babypants connection in another post, but I must say I enjoy traveling because it exposes me to music I would never hear. Our Uber driver to the airport is a fan of Lecrae and he had it blastin' in his Kia, so I sat up front with him to find out why and I didn't have to wait long for the answer.

"Yeah, it's all fact no fiction
It's my interpretation
You wanna know how it went down?
I'll tell you"


Saturday, May 18, 2019

George R. R. Martin Delivers The Goods

May 18, 2019
   Good storytelling involves withholding information AND evoking emotion through conflict.

   Imagine my surprise when I discovered both at a birthday party in Seattle, Washington.

Birthday party for Frances

   The birthday girl is two.

   It's a cliche that good writing feeds on strong conflict. I brought along the first book of "Game of Thrones," to read on the plane. Here's a nice short scene that has both conflict AND emotion: the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Jon Snow, is leaving Winterfell to join the Nightwatch, but he wants to say his goodbyes and so he shows up at the room where his brother Bran is in a coma and his mother has been at his bedside for a fortnight. Jon is nervous about going in and when he does, the mother rebukes him. The tension between the two is at a two on a scale of one to ten. When he insists on staying, she says, "I told you to leave. We don't want you here." Each comment and exchange escalates the tension. When Jon pleads for sympathy, "He's my brother," the mother says, "Shall I call the guards?"

   "Call them, Jon said, defiant. "You can't stop me from seeing him." Now we're at a seven, or eight on the conflict scale.

   The mother, in her grief, confesses she prayed for the boy in the coma to stay behind with her. In an attempt at compassion, Jon says, "It wasn't your fault." Then we get this:

   "Her eyes found him. They were full of poison. 'I need none of your absolution, bastard.'"

   Jon retreats to the door but she has one more vicious comment: "It should have been you."

   In other words, it should have been the bastard son who fell out of the broken tower and is in a deep coma. She collapses in sobs, weeping. George ends the short scene with "It was a long walk down to to the yard."

   Boy howdy. That is a short, masterful confrontation pegging at ten and staying there. At the same time we don't feel anger towards either character, the mother guarding her injured son, or, the injured son being rejected by his step-mother. Just a tragic situation with well earned emotion on both sides. How does Martin do this? Well, a friend of mine knows him and has this to say:

      "George is one of those 'overnight successes' who toiled for decades to get there. He was a moderately successful horror writer for a long time. A writer's writer, who's always been good and was read by everybody else in the field, received awards, etc., but could walk into almost any bookstore in the country without being recognized. 

   "Somewhere along the line he got it into his head to combine epic fantasy with epic horror in a way that's never really been done, and to make it all seem utterly realistic. It worked. The books caught on quickly and made him a household name in fantasy-loving households. But it wasn't until HBO came along that he became a household name almost everywhere. Now he's so famous they made a Funko Pop out of him (one of two authors so honored, that I know of. Proud to say I've met them both, George, of course, and Ted Geisel, who lived in La Jolla where I managed a bookstore for a decade.). And as he says, trucks roll up to the front door every week and unload money into the house. Another friend, Charlaine Harris, had a similar experience when HBO made True Blood, She'd had a pretty successful book series with her Sookie Stackhouse books, but when the TV series hit big, suddenly she had 8 books on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously--an unmatched feat, I believe. 

   "Anyway, he's a fine writer and a really good, deserving guy. I'm envious of his success, but don't begrudge him a second of it."
—Jeff Mariotte

"I always expect the best from George R. R. Martin, and he always delivers."
—Robert Jordan

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Future of The First Bloom

May 17, 2019
   The palo verdes started blooming in April, now it's the mighty saguaros turn.

A Giant Flower Gets Its First Blooms

A Closer Look

"I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate."
—Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Prelude to a Deluge

May 16, 2019
   Last night Kathy and I watched the Game of Thrones episode (season three, episode nine) known as "The Red Wedding." Ay-Yi-Yi. Haven't seen that on my TV set, ever before. Crazy—and bloody—good.

   I wonder if there is a big, sprawling epic to be made involving In-din slavers, Conquistadors, hacendados, vaqueros and American cowboys, all colliding like the Starks and the Lannisters? It seems to me the trick would be to play all the tribes as powerful and not wimpy. Might that fly?

"Hell yes!"
says Arapaho Black Bull

   Noodling clouds this morning involving the incessant wind of my home region.

Daily Whip Out:
"Prelude to The Deluge."
"A Gully Washer Rolls In Over Red Lake."

"Sometimes, a windy is what keeps history sailing."
—Chris Casey

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Wild Bunch vs. The Mild Bunch

May 15, 2019
   At my recent book signing at the Powerhouse Museum in Kingman a few old friends showed up and Darlene Harshberger took this photo, which her husband, Dan the Man, turned into a True West cover, parodying our current cover search to find a suitable image for The Real Wild Bunch. Coach Byram is ninety!

The Mild Bunch Indeed

   The good news is we are still here.
   Picture this tall (6' 5") escaped slave. She is Zulu and escapes and becomes a legendary outlaw in the great Southwest.

"Zulu Bandida"

   Just curious, has this been done before?

"I'd say most of my mistakes can be traced back to when I decided to get out of bed."
—Old Vaquero Saying