Monday, June 30, 2003

June 30, 2003
I fasted all day yesterday. Never done that before. It’s interesting how much we think of food and how food ads and food images are everywhere. And of course when you can’t eat, it’s Obsess City. We were watching “Project Greenlight” on HBO last night and they’re having a script meeting and in typical Hollywood fashion they’re eating takeout and I say to Kathy, “Can you tell what they’re eating?” And she says, “You’re not even interested in what they’re
saying, are you?” and I said, “No, I just want some of that great looking food.”

In spite of the fasting and fast trips to the bathroom, I actually got five paintings going of Vera. Finally got a likeness, need to shift gears and do some action stuff.

Also washed the truck and swam laps.

Kathy is driving me into Scottsdale for my morning colonoscopy (6:40). Hope I can work this afternoon.

"I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know why those doctors were wearing masks."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, June 29, 2003

June 29, 2003
Kathy and I met the Brinks for dinner last night at Tonto ($54 biz debit). Great time. Bob was in New York last week and ran into the head honchos of two cable channels (Bob helped create the networks when he was at Hearst) The upshot is both execs expressed an interest in a show built around True West magazine. Very exciting.

Got three roughs of Vera going yesterday. Still haven’t captured her essence. Need to bail in today and get something going.

Last Thursday morning I spent some time with Steve Sederwall, the mayor of Capitan, New Mexico and over breakfast he spun out the Digging Up Billy story that ended up landing on the front page of the New York Times. We (he and another participant, Lee who is filming a documentary on the dig) drove over to Carizozo and looked at Robert Olinger’s bloody wallet which is framed in the county clerk’s office. Olinger was killed by Billy the Kid when the outlaw killed his two jailers and escaped hanging in April of 1881. Steve is a cop and knows how to play the media like a violin. He is having fun. I took note and notes.

As of 8:10 this morning, I’m fasting and drinking Phospho-soda (Ginger-lemon flavor bowel cleanser) because tomorrow morning a certain doctor is going to drive a bus up the tight curves of my rectum.

“To love what you do and feel that it matters -- how could anything be more
—Katharine Graham

Saturday, June 28, 2003

June 28, 2003
Went into town at eight this morning and caught a big sale at Robinson’s May. Got a new jacket ($200 jacket for $89)), slacks ($75 for $62)) and tie ($29 for $18) for TV taping next week (with all the sale discounts the total was $168). Felt good. Wanted something that didn’t look too Nashville (Nudie variations) or Dude-ish (Dennis Weaver on The Westerns Channel) or Single-Action-Shooterish (Wah Maker) or Foo Foo (Tuxedo Junction). I wanted something casual but professional looking and I think I found it. When you see the new History Channel series, Old West Tech, you can decide for yourself.

Came home and started on Vera McGinnis stamp ideas. We are featuring her on the cover next issue (October) and we’re going to petition Congress and get her on a stamp. Whether they use one of my designs remains to be seen, but we’ve got the backing of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Jana is going to do everything in her power to make it happen. And when that gal sets her mind to something, look out!

I don’t have the best art education (not the college’s fault, it’s mine) and I lack some basic talents, but it’s too late to turn back now. Besides...

“If you pray for a Cadillac and God sends a jackass, ride it.” —Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, June 27, 2003

June 27, 2003
A long travel day. I started out with frost on my rental car window this morning in Ruidoso. Got a ticket coming down the hill (radar clocked me at 71 just outside Alamagordo, which frosted my. . .wallet: $69!). Got to El Paso at ten, went out to lunch with Paul and Jayme at Grigg’s (they bought). Paul drew me the map of exactly where Billy the Kid is buried in Fort Sumner (it’s not at the grave stone). Jarvis Garrett (Pat’s son) showed Paul when they went there in the early eighties.

Full plane, left at one, got to Phoenix at 1:10 (gained an hour, 103 degrees when we landed), Kathy picked me up. Stopped by Tonto to get a Cobb salad to go ($15 cash), got into office at 2:30. Caught up on biz. Read the new Wild West. Their piece on Wyatt in Peoria is quite good (didn’t like reading that). Also didn’t like seeing all the bylines of “our” writers. Guess we’ll have to pay ‘em more and lock ‘em up.

Early Returns Dept.: My mother called this afternoon and said, “Now don’t get upset with me Robert, but why did you draw that ugly picture of Billy the Kid on the cover of your beautiful magazine?” I thought of saying, “Basically because I hate your guts mom and I’m trying to do anything to hurt you in your old age,” but I didn’t think she’d get the humor. Instead I mumbled something about being a bad boy and it wouldn’t happen again (this month).

Speech in Ruidoso went quite well. Great crowd, mostly business owners so I was preaching to the choir (“Everything I learned in business I learned from Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Geronimo”). I actually think there is a potentially lucrative market for a talk like this (think “Who Hid The Cheese” with chaps and guns). Great response on several bits, especially the “most businesses fail because someone is reining in their horse in the middle of a jump.” For some reason that really hit home, probably because it’s so true.

“If you wish to be success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.” —Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday, June 26, 2003

June 26, 2003
I’m in Ruidoso. Going to go to the Hubbard Museum this morning to talk to Drew Gomber and John Jeffers about filming bumpers for a certain cable
channel. Great prospect and I’m looking forward to coming back with a film crew.

Here’s the main topics of my speech tonight for the Chamber dinner (business advice from a cartoonist!):

• Don’t rein in your horse in the middle of a jump

• The higher up the flagpole you go, the more people can see your rear-end.

• If two people in business agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.

• Poor New Mexico: so far from heaven, so close to Arizona.

Carole shipped ten of the new Digging Up Billy issues to the Hubbard and at the culmination of my speech I’m going to pull out a copy, show it to the
audience, then tell them: “If you’d like a free issue, simply be one of the first ten to go to the Hubbard Museum to see the Gunfighter Show and tell the
person at the front desk the secret code, which is ‘Jackass from Arizona,' and you’ll get your free issue.”

“I think part of leadership is knowing when to be compassionate and when to be brutal.”
—Joel Schumacher (he directed “Phone Booth”)

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

June 25, 2003
I am flying to El Paso today at two. Going to rent a car, eat some Puerto Rican food with Paul Northrop, then drive up to Ruidoso, via Orogrande, Wildy Wells (where Pat Garrett was humiliated), Alamagordo, La Luz, Tularosa, Blazer’s Mill and George Coe’s farm. Great country, very romantic drive (If you’re in love with harsh country, dotted with oasis of white trash double-wides interspersed with ancient adobe—and I am).

Going to meet with Steve Sederwall and Tom Sullivan the two guys responsible for the Digging Up Billy phenom. Others are fleeing their camp for fear of being associated with them, but I can’t wait to meet them and talk grave robbing (yes, you can quote me on that).

My speech on Thursday night is for the Ruidoso Chamber of Commerce and is entitled “Everything I learned in Business I Learned From Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Geronimo.”

Yesterday we spent a good hour in our staff meeting talking about how great the new issue is. Much of the praise is due not to what my staff put in, but what they left out. When novices get computers they want to show they can use all the nifty toys attached and there is a tendency to throw drop shadows on every photo, textured background on art, fancy borders, gradated color swaths on every page, and it goes on ad infinitum until the end product is choked to death with clutter. Seasoned veterans know what to leave out, when to splurge, when to hold back. This maturity makes me very happy because I have had this fear that if I die in a carwreck they would ruin my magazine! Of course many oldtimers think I have already ruined the magazine but I can't help that. After suffering their abuse for about two years, I realized I needed to be bold and follow my gut. As Jim Larkin put it, "Evidently they want the magazine to die with them." And it was well on its way when we bought it.

Phil B. from the Arizona Republic came out and interviewed Jana, R.G., Meghan and I for an upcoming feature we’re doing. Over lunch at the Satisfied Frog, Phil asked me what my political persuasion is and I said, “I’m a Halfist. I believe everyone is about half right.” For example, I believe one of the Lee Harvey Oswalds acted alone.

“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

June 24, 2003
We got our first subscription from Iraq! A soldier from Arizona got one of the True West issues that our printer Banta had donated to a Kansas City radio promotion, where they sent goodies to the troops during the war. This kid, from Elfrida, Arizona got one of the Who Killed Custer issues and sent us a very nice letter (actually to Marshall Trimble) along with Iraqi money (a funny looking green bill with running horses on it). We are going to send him a care package full of TW goodies and a comp subscription. He said it is hotter than Arizona in Iraq and sometimes it gets up to 130 degrees. It really made our day (not the temperature but the letter).

The office copies of the Digging Up Billy issue arrived yesterday at about 10. I’m still very nervous about the cover (it is so stark and jarring, it is either going to be a newsstand juggernaut or an ash heap rocketship of doo doo). But inside everything is professional, restrained, tight and sassy. I called in several staffers to go over the issue and praise them on the balance, layout and overall effect. I am especially proud of Meghan, Abby, Gus, Robert and Dan because for the first time there are entire departments that I had nothing to do with and they are exemplary. Usually I’m fretting and baby sitting numerous departments like letters, Last Stand, Ask The Marshall, $2 Cowboy and Westerns, but on this issue these guys stepped up and made the right decisions without any help from me. The end result is, this is an issue I would have to buy (as a reader), and that is the ultimate compliment.

“Praise works with only three types of people: men, women and children.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, June 23, 2003

June 23, 2003
Really nice Sunday at home yesterday. Redeemed a landscape painting with a neutral blue sky (found it in a stack of discards). May add a rider at the bottom. Swam laps, helped Kathy put up string of Mexican lights around the fireplace. Burned my finger on the glue gun. Kathy made a turkey and we had a nice sitdown dinner. Went for two walks. Had a glass of wine. Life could be worse.

There is a growing resistance to the Billy dig from a faction of the Billy crowd itself. Some of my best friends are of the idea that it’s a total waste of time and will cost taxpayers money. True, but oh the worldwide attention on the Old West. Sorry, but that’s not a bad thing, considering the drought we have been through for the past two decades.

Much consternation from other quarters about the business aspect of the magazine. Dealing with layers of blame and accusations. Draining to say the least.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man
--Mark Twain

Sunday, June 22, 2003

June 22, 2003
One of my faithful journal readers, J.Rae, sent me a different take on being called the biggest jackass in the history field: “A jackass knows how to take care of himself, for thousand of years they earned the right to their proud stubbornness and independence, much like their cousin the mule, they possess a keen intuition and rely on self preservation. Perhaps the "smartass" that called you a "jackass" didn't realize the honor he bestowed upon you.”

Had a very productive day yesterday. Got most of my books up off the floor and put back in the library. Of course I found numerous things that have been lost for ages (a sweeping photo panorama of Gudalupe Canyon where Geronimo once surrendered and where Old Man Clanton and friends were ambushed and killed). I found a pen and ink scratchboard of my son Thomas that nails that White Boy Gangster look that was so prevalent about five years ago. Here it is. Actually a pretty good likeness. It will make a nice present to his kids when they turn 15. Ha (File this under Petty Parent Behavior #376)

Swam laps for an hour. Felt great. Got dressed up and drove into Scottsdale with Kathy at about four and saw the movie The Man With No Past, ($13 cash). Unfortunately there was another movie with a similar title playing at Camelview 5 called The Man On The Train. I got the tickets punched, told Kathy to go save us two seats while I got some popcorn. The ticket taker said our movie was “the second theatre on the left.” I got my popcorn, went down the hall and went in the second theatre. Couldn’t see Kathy, figured she was in the bathroom. I quickly staked out two middle seats about half-way down. Perfect. Ten minutes went by, no Kath. I turned to my seatmates and said, “My poor wife is probably in the wrong theatre. Would you save these seats for me while I go get her?” The husband gave me that sympathetic look that husbands get when we are feeling cocky and superior.
I went out into the hall and looked up at the title above our theatre and it said, “The Man On The Train.” Oops! I ran back in, grabbed the bottled water and popcorn and said to my support group, “I’m in the wrong theatre.” They gave me that look that says, “You may be a jackass in other fields besides history.” I had become The Man With No Brain.

The movie was okay (6.5). Those damn Fins are dryer than a Norwegian funeral. Afterwards we had dinner at Charleston’s ($45 cash). Fun meal and a good talk about a certain friend of ours who’s acting like a big baby.

Grandma Betty came out this morning and I made breakfast for the girls. Talked quite a bit about forgiveness and the guilt and regret we all seem to harbor. I feel particularly guilty about my father’s death. I got a call from him in the hospital and he said he was feeling awful (a family friend had called an ambulance after finding him on the floor of his house). An hour later, a hospital administrator called me and told me there was nothing wrong with my father and they were going to send him home. I pleaded with the guy to keep him there under observation, but the guy said, “In the old days, we could have, but we have checked him out and we can’t keep someone in the hospital if there is nothing wrong with them.” Four hours later I got a phone message from the same guy telling me my father was dead. I could have driven there in three hours and perhaps. . .

“What can you do with the past? Forgive it. Let it enter into you in peace.”
—Dame Iris Murdoch

Saturday, June 21, 2003

June 21, 2003
So far the voting on the “I Dig Billy” T-shirts is unanimous: you all prefer the full length Billy (although one vote was for the slogan: “Where’s Billy?”). If you haven’t voted please check out yesterday’s journal entry, click on the vote "right here” and send us your thoughts. I really enjoy your feedback and forward them to the staff.

And speaking of feedback, here’s Emma B.’s response to the reader’s suggestion that I get out of the biz (see June 18):

“When they call you a jackass, it just means that they care. I bet nobody calls the editor of Atlantic Monthly a jackass. Okay, so maybe that wasn't as comforting as it could have been...”

Ha. Actually, the salutation, “Dear Sir: You are the biggest jackass in the history field. I recommend you get out at once,” has become a catch phrase at my house, and as I was going to bed last night, Kathy repeated it out loud from memory and we laughed ourselves to sleep. And I’m thinking of using it on my editorial page. After all, I already use the image of a jackass kicking his heels high in the air (see the last 15 To The Points).

And not to blow my own horn too much, but you have to admit it would look pretty cool on a tombstone as well:

Here Lies Bob Boze Bell
The Biggest Jackass In The History Field

Besides, in the history field a jackass is a step up on the food chain.

"By all means marry: If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."

Friday, June 20, 2003

June 20, 2003
I did a quick scratchboard of Billy with a shovel last week (Dan H.’s idea) and earlier this week Dan whipped out two versions for a possible T-shirt design. Here they are. Which one is the coolest? The full length or the cropped version? One wag said it should really say “Where’s Billy?” Is that better? Vote right here.

Tweaked cover copy for October issue with Meghan and R.G. Got some better teasers going. The cover blurbs are so important. We were looking at the English version of Esquire which is loaded up with twice as much copy (it also had a poly-bagged DVD of the best British comedy, which prompted Mike Melrose to quip, “That should be a short two minutes.”).

Went to the coumadin clinic at three yesterday. My coumadine score came in at a 1.9 (therapeutic level should be a 2.0). That was good, although the nurse asked me if I am bruising easily yet, which evidently is a by-product of this whole deal. Can’t wait for that.

Kids sent photos via the internet of them on their host’s boat somewhere off the coast of Long Island. Really looked like fun. Thomas starts his job this week. Deena is still looking.

Had a mysterious call yesterday from a guy who told us he had a hard time finding us (too true!), how much was a one year subscription ($29.95) and other pointed questions. He hung up, called back and asked Carole if we were having financial difficulties. Thinking perhaps it was some snooping crazy (we have our share of chronic crazies, and not just in the Earp field), Carole diplomatically answered (“We like money.”). The guy then suggested he send in $100 for a three year subscription and Carole thanked him but said we wouldn’t accept that (Dammit Carole!). He tried again to send the extra money but Carole countered with a four year deal at $89.95. He begrudgingly accepted. Amazing story, but true. There are some very nice people out there rooting for us.

“Success and failure are both difficult to endure.  Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide.  With failure comes failure.”
—Joseph Heller

P.S. I guess I haven’t experienced full success because I have never considered meditation.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

June 19, 2003
Last week I typed up some info on “creating covers that sell.” I got the tidbits out of CM (Circ. Mangmnt) magazine and put it in every staffer’s box. Among the nuggets:

• Buzzwords sell: “Collector’s Edition” is a proven winner on the newsstand (Boy Howdy!).

• The Sweet Spots: The most valuable space on the cover is “the inverted L” just below the top trim and the space that runs along the bind side. “This is the only part of a magazine cover that shows, when the magazine is stacked in a tightly merchandised newsstand rack. You should plan the design of this space carefully, and perhaps use graphic elements such as sunbursts and banners on the upper left hand corner of your covers to attract a browser’s eye.”

• Clutter Sells: “While many editors and art directors loathe clutter, the truth is that in the retail environment, the more selling messages you have on your cover the more likely it will sell.”

• Numbers Win: “Focus group studies show, that the use of numbers works well with the retail customer. Designing a cover that shouts ‘10 Great Ways to...’ attracts interest and sales.” Our 50 Guns (big headline) issue doubled our newsstand sales.I repeat, it doubled our sales.

On Tuesday I got a heads up from Dan Buck that the Washington Post has done a hilarious take on magazine’s sudden infatuation with numbers on the cover. Here’s the opening:

“Lists have long been a staple of the magazine biz, but lately things have gotten out of hand. In April, Spin, the rock mag, ran an all-list issue. In its June issue, Bassmaster, the fishing glossy, celebrated its 35th anniversary with five lists, each with 35 items, such as "America's 35 Most Important Bass Waters.'' Book, a magazine that covers literature, now runs lists called "the 100 Best Characters in Fiction" and "50 Best Adventure Books." Even Time, which was once above this sort of thing, recently ran "Nine Smashing Car Chases," a list from cinematic history.

To view the entire article, go to 2003Jun16.html?referrer=emailarticle
Yesterday, I got a call from Robert Ray at the printer in Kansas City and I asked him how it was going and he said, “Good. It’s a great plant. Banta does an excellent job. The press checks have been right on the money.” I asked him how the cover looked. Long pause. “Wellllll, I don’t know,” Robert mused. I asked if it looked bad. “They blew it up to three feet and it was waiting for me in the hallway.” “And?” I asked, suddenly worried about our Stop The Presses baby. “And,” Robert proceeded, “it’s real scary.” And I said, “The cover, or the design?” And Robert said, “Both.” Yikes! That blew my confidence right out the window.

This morning I got into the office and opened a letter from a reader and this is what it said:

“Dear Sir: You are the biggest jackass in the history field. I recommend you get out at once.” Among other advice (“please send one of your minions over to New Mexico”), the reader weighs in on my cover choice (Digging Up Billy): “The better cover for True West would not have been that grotesque drawing of Billy the Kid arising from his grave but rather a drawing of his head in a jar of formaldehyde with his blue eyes glistening. Now that would be sensational and historically correct.”

I’m not sure which advice I’ll take: the cover suggestion, or the jackass suggestion, but I guess the bigger question is, will my Billy Day of the Dead cover be my personal Bay of Pigs? We’ll soon see.

“Success has a hundred fathers and failure is an orphan.”
—attributed to JFK after the Bay of Pigs

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

June 18, 2003
The Arizona Republic sent out a photographer yesterday to take photos of Jana, R.G., Meghan and I for a feature they are planning on us in the fall. Jana’s connections and her piece on the fastest, most daring cowgirl who ever lived—Vera McGinnis (buy a photo print!) — is the focal point. They also want to cover our 50th anniversary, so that should be nice. Shot the photos in my office. Susanne Starr, the shooter, asked me to wear one of my big hats and she also asked Meghan to put one on (I’ve got six or seven hanging around my office just in case). I don’t think Meghan was thrilled with the idea but it looked cute on her from where I was standing.

Our art director, Dan Harshberger, came out for a big planning session. We have three issues deadlining in three week intervals and we want to be on top of it. Dan always makes the ideas flow and Jana is no slouch either. Went to lunch at the Satisfied Frog ($11 cash) and I told them we had a good photo of Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott from the movie Tombstone for the November-December issue which will feature the 50 Most Historically Accurate Westerns. Even though I think the image is quite strong, Dan was so-so on the idea. His thought is that it’s not new and it’s not old (one of our favorite sayings that goes all the way back to the Razz Revue days, is: “If you’re going to win at tennis, either go to the net or stay behind the baseline. Don’t get caught in the middle!”). Dan said he thought the Tombstone photo was “in the middle.” Jana piped in with, “What Western came out in 1953?” Bingo! I’m not going to tell you what movie it is, but let’s just say we’re both 50 years old. The magazine and the movie are both classics. Very strong. I love working with creative people and this just makes me happy and proud.

Talked by phone to Tom Sullivan, the sheriff of Lincoln County about the Billy dig. Nice guy. He told me he is under attack by some guy from England, and I laughed and said, “Is his name Fred Nolan?” And he said yes. Evidently Fred (see June 13 diary entry) wrote a letter to the Ruidoso newspaper which they published and Fred rips the dig and the sheriff’s motives for doing it. When Tom told me they were going to point out some of Fred’s discrepancies in his books on the Lincoln County War, I warned him he’s going after the British equivalent of a Mojave Rattler: “Be very careful,” I told him, "Fred's got a wit that will kill," but I’m not sure he heard me.

Got an E-mail from Marcus Huff and he claims the newest issue of Outside ripped off our Old West Journal travel feature, page for page. Can’t wait to see it.

“Don’t worry about people stealing your original ideas. If they really are original, you’ll have to cram them down their throats.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

June 17, 2003
It was ten years ago this month that Jeff Morey called me and asked me if I wanted to visit the movie set of Tombstone. I took along Deena (13) and we drove down to Tucson, picked up Jeff at Bob Palmquist’s house and headed for Sonoita and Elgin. Finally got to the set around two. It was up a canyon, probably less than three miles from where Dave Daiss now has his ranch.

I remember there were huge cables running out of a couple big semi-tractors and we followed them up the draw to a “Cowboy Camp.” We immediately recognized Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer (who had on pasty, white makeup).

I was immediately knocked out by the authentic costuming and commented to Jeff it was the best hats I had ever seen in a Western. A security guy came by and warned me not to take any photos. I promised and tucked my Nikon around behind my hip.

We wandered through the set, then ambled up a small hillock where we could see the action. The Earp vendetta posse rode over the top of a Mexican cowboy (they were filming the close-up on his face, swearing in Spanish, with his eyes bugged out). They yelled, "That's a take," broke down and set up in front of a cowboy tent where the posse confronted one of the cowboys. The director and author of the screenplay, Kevin Jarre, stepped in front of the camera and showed Kurt Russell how he wanted the fight to go. I noticed Kevin’s movements were very Victorian and Queensburyish. I thought it was very original. Unfortunately, when Kurt tried to mimic him, his moves were patent B-movie fighting and the scene quickly disintegrated into a stock, Hollywood punch-out.

Later, Kevin Jarre sought out Jeff and I sitting on the hill and he sat down to talk to us. I told him how much I liked the hats and he beamed. Instinctively, I pulled my camera up and shot off a photo of Jeff and Kevin (as we left I also snuck one of the fight scene being filmed from a reverse angle. Kurt Russell sat on a ladder instead of his horse).

We watched part of two setups, which was no doubt a tiny fraction of probably 120 shots they planned for the movie.

Two days later, I got the call that Kevin had been fired as director and that they were bringing in the director of Rambo and Cobra to finish the movie. Of course the finished product made money and is considered a cult classic by guys of my ilk (typically, none of the scenes we watched ended up in the movie). But I’ve often wondered if Kevin could have actually filmed the version he had in his head, would it have been even that much better? And, for the past ten years I have wondered about what was the final straw. I’ve heard rumblings from some of the extras, “He was moving too slow,” and “he insisted on using sticks (tripod bound cameras) totally.”

Last weekend when we were filming in Turkey Creek Canyon, I asked one of the crew who had worked on Tombstone if he could cast any light on why Kevin lost his job, and the guy says, “I know exactly when he lost his job. They were filming a fight scene and Kevin insisted on this bullshit way of fighting and Kurt just lost it. That was the final straw and Kevin was out of there.”

So not only did I get a photo of Kevin Jarre (he also wrote Glory the excellent Civil War movie that got Denzel Washington his first Oscar) at the exact moment he lost his movie, but I learned a valuable lesson: sometimes you can be too creative and too historically accurate for your own good.

By the way, I ran the photo of Kevin and Jeff in “The Illustrated Life & Times of Wyatt Earp,” fourth edition, page 136.

"Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty."
—Mark Twain

Monday, June 16, 2003

June 16, 2003
In Cimarron we stayed at the historic Saint James Hotel. On Saturday evening our host Doug Palmer gave us the driving tour of the massive Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. At 137,000 acres of pristine Rocky Mountain splendor, it was a stunning sight to see. There are literally thousands of visiting Scouts from all over the world on the ranch in the summer, so as we drove up the creek beds looking for elk we could see clusters of Scouts in their rain ponchos making camp in distant glens. Each camp had a peculiar attribute and that is they had twin telephone-like poles with big bags hoisted high in the air between them. This is their food and each camp has to have one to keep the food away from the bears. Especially at night.

Once a bear eats human food, they won’t stop until they get more. Doug told us, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” Once they taste our food they become hooked and won’t go back to their native diet. The ranch catches these “habitualized” bears and often truck them 100 miles up in to the wilderness, but they all come back. They can’t resist the salt, the fat and the sugar.

So I’m on this new diet (never been on one before) and yesterday’s paper said three out of five kids are at risk for diabetes because of our American diet and I’m thinking, “Even bears don’t want to eat their own food once they’ve had a Big Mac. No wonder we’re all blimps.”

“A man can stand a lot as long as he can stand himself. He can live without hope, without friends, without books, even without music, as long as he can listen to his own thoughts.”
—Alex Munthe

Sunday, June 15, 2003

June 15, 2003
Back from New Mexico: the weekend was a great example of seizing the moment. I had several re-enactor friends and a Phoenix video shooter who I tried to get to join us but they all flaked. I called Al Frisch in LA on Wednesday night and he said, “I’ll be there with a four man crew.” Now that is inspiring. Throw in Dave Daiss, who is always ready for an adventure and Tom Chenal, who owns the plane and loves history and we were all jumping off a cliff with the general idea of figuring it all out on the way down.

Got up at 3:30 AM on Friday morning. Met Dave Daiss at his house and we drove over to Carefree and got Tom C. and drove down to Scottsdale Airpark. As we got in his small Mooney four seater, Tom asked me, “Are you nervous?” and I looked at him probably much like Buddy Holly looked at the pilot at Clear Lake, Iowa, and said, “Should I be?” We took off at 5:30 bound for Saint John, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Cimarron, Turkey Creek Canyon and Raton (which means “rat” in Spanish, so it’s Rat Town). Flight was smooth but a tad cramped.

Peeled off the flight plan at Cimarron and made two sweeps at Turkey Creek Canyon. Shot DV and stills out the window. Landed at 10 NM time, picked up by Jason S. of the Philmont Ranch. He drove us back down to Cimarron (40 miles). We met our four man film crew from Hollywood (they drove straight through—17 hours!), and we headed up to the canyon. Rough going, narrow, rutty roads, wet and rocky. Finally got on location at one, didn’t get our first shot until almost two. It rained on us three times (which was great because it rained at the actual gunfight). Great shots of Dave D. as Will Carver firing from the actual sniper position, first with smokeless powder, then with blackpowder. Really quite amazing to see. Will play nicely on the History Channel (assuming they pay enough for the shot).

Filmed Tom C. as Elzy Lay getting hit as he filled his canteen. Shot it at the exact spot where the real Elzy went down (it was exactly as described in newspaper reports by the way). Black Jack’s cave and the canyon looked remarkably like my illustrations and that was a relief. Unfortunately it was choked with vegetation (second growth ponderosa, they told us), and so it was hard to get wide shots. We filmed until eight, got almost everything we planned on our master shot list. Got probably 10 solid scenes.

Went back out Saturday morning to a different location on the Philmont Ranch, where there was less vegetation. Picked up another ten or twelve scenes. Al Frisch brought wardrobe, guns, blanks, reflecters, a sound boom and a state of the art Canon video camera (one of those new ones that simulates film). A veteran actor and stuntman, Jeff Dolan was on the crew (he was in “Tombstone”) and he added a professional touch to the proceedings with his commanding voice: "Fire in the hole! Two Squibs, one live round, rolling, and. . . ACTION!" The director of photography was a cocky kid named Stephen McCurry (remember that name) who I liked immediately and we hit if off. I told him the history (what really happened) and he blocked the shots. I shot 62 minutes of B roll (second camera positions) with my palm held DV camera.

According to our hosts, no one has ever filmed the event on the actual site. As I looked around at the crew I realized everyone had one thing in common: we were all seizing the moment. And even if nothing ever comes of it, that was worth the whole trip.

“In Heaven all the interesting people are missing.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, June 12, 2003

June 13, 2003
I’m cleaning my studio and I keep finding these Redeeming paintings. I seem to paint myself in a corner and then try to redeem myself. The good news is they’re everywhere, the bad new is not that many are redeemable.

Well, I whipped out the Five Reasons Brushy Bill Is Not Billy the Kid sidebar on Monday. Wrote most of it from memory. I was stuck at four reasons and needed one more. I almost used the Brushy Bill Roberts was illiterate and the Kid wrote notes to the governor that are on public display, but Judge Hafner, a staunch Brushy advocate claims there is hard evidence of Roberts’ handwriting. So I was looking for something else and finally, at about an hour before the issue went out the door I remembered that Brushy claimed Garrett shot another guy, named Billy Barlow instead of Billy the Kid. So I quickly wrote the fifth reason, claiming there is no evidence of a Billy Barlow in the 1880s census for Lincoln County. I was 99% sure, but I wasn’t 100% sure, if you know what I mean.

As the hours and days ticked by I began to worry. What if, by some strange twist of fate, there really was a person named Billy Barlow and I haven’t heard or read about it? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!? So I shot off an E-mail to Fred Nolan in England asking him if, to his knowledge, was there ever a Billy Barlow in that part of New Mexico. I finally heard from him last night. Here’s what he wrote:

Hey, Bob,
As a matter of fact there is a William Barlow in Lincoln County in 1880, living in the Seven Rivers area. Unfortunately for the Brushy Bill brigade, little Willie is only four months old. However, his mother is 29 and does not seem to have a husband. Was he up in Fort Sumner, which by the way is in San Miguel County, remember?

Only kidding, Bob. He isn't in the SMC census either. There never was any Billy Barlow. Bet the farm on it.
Love to Kathy,

This is part of my reply: “My heart stopped. I was getting ready to call the printer in Kansas City. If Fred Nolan says there was a Billy Barlow. . .wait a minute. YOU SON OF A BRIT!”

"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: Alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat."
—Alex Levine
June 12, 2003
The Digging Up Billy media phenom keeps snowballing. Got a call from the Albuquerque daily newspaper yesterday. Interviewed by Ollie Reed, their history correspondent, and they are going to run our Billy cover as art for the story (the wonders of E-mail, we just Jpg’d it to them).

Our trip to Turkey Creek Canyon tomorrow got interesting yesterday. The History Channel has expressed interest in the fight because of the smokeless powder issue and wondered if I could shoot some video while I’m there. We may do an entire re-enactment of the fight, thanks to some Hollywood friends. Need to get clearance from the Boy Scouts. Got to do that this morning. Could be tricky. We’ll see.

Dan Buck sent me an interesting take on oldtimer’s memories as it applies to the Brushy Bill as Billy the Kid controversy. Here it is:

“The wrap-up piece on 60 Minutes II last night was Steve Hartman attending the 1983 class reunion of a high school he never attended. He's from Ohio and the high school was in Arizona. He came armed with a mini-camera in his glasses to record the reactions of his "former classmates." Every grad save one remembered Hartman; some more than others. Obviously the recollections of a few were of the polite variety --’Hey, good to see you again.’ But others swore they had been in classes together. One woman said she had flirted with him, and mentioned how cute he was. A reminder of how easy it is to deceive, especially when the deceiver takes the initiative, setting the stage with a good story. This helps explain how easily people are gulled by the Brushy Bills and William T. Phillips [a Butch Cassidy claimant] of the world.”
—Dan Buck

"Those are my principals. If you don't like them, I have others."
—Groucho Marx

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

June 11, 2003
I got a heads up from one of our subscribers that the August issue of Wild West magazine is out and they did the Wyatt Earp in a Peoria whore house article a month after us but they have used the word “pimp” on the cover. Interesting, considering all the debate on our staff, or, as the subscriber put it, “A body would have to be the village idiot to believe the use of the word ‘pimp’ on the WW cover was a mere coincidence since you made a strong case for the use of it in your journal.”

Our August issue is at the printer and we shifted gears and went with the “Digging Up Billy” cover. It will be interesting to see if Wild West follows us there also. Since they’re obviously reading this journal, here’s our immediate plans for the fall:

• “Wyatt Earp Was Gay And We Have The Photos to Prove It.” (I’m dong a cover painting of Wyatt and Doc cuddling on a couch)

• “‘I Surrendered Like The Wimp I Am’: the True Story of Davy Crocket at The Alamo.”

• “Shocking New DNA Results Prove Historians Have Been Wrong for 122 Years! Brushy Bill Was Billy The Kid.”

Well, maybe one or two of those is an exaggeration (but not the Historians Have Been Wrong part).

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

June 10, 2003
Had a marathon day yesterday. Kathy and I got up at 3:30 AM to take the kids to the airport. Got to Sky Harbor at five, dropped kids off at gate (they are both going to New York to work for the summer), then Kathy and I took the scenic drive home, up Central Avenue. Beautiful drive, old houses, mansions really, tree lined streets, classic old school Arizona. Stopped in Paradise Valley at Rolberto’s for breakfast ($7.50 cash), then came home, finished a painting of Billy as a floating corpse.

Got into office at 8:30. Place humming with action as Robert Ray, Abby, Gus, Meghan, R.G. and I scrambled to redo the editorial, the contents page, the cover and the Digging Up Billy piece. Jana called several times with corrections or additions to the story (they’re going to dig up another guy in Prescott!). Gus designed two covers, incorporating the bullfighter-boxing motif decks I have been wanting. Made a decision on which cover to go with. We had a traditional cover and a scary one. We chose the scary one. PDF’d it to Daniel at about two. Here's part of the scratchhoard image of Billy rotting away.

Wrote a sidebar to finish out the Billy Dig, rewrote my editorial, shoe-horned it all in. Re-vamped Pancho layout with new head and tweaked copy with bullets (thankyou Robert Ray!).

Came home at two for lunch. Went back at three, Abby massaged Billy Dig layout, finished around four, Robert Ray took the whole mess to Fed Ex. Amazing feat by all involved. Mike Melrose had a funny line. As we were wrapping it all up he said, “I’m just glad it’s not sales holding up the magazine.” Funny, because if it was we would be steamed and looking for someone’s head, probably Mike’s. But since it’s editorial it’s righteous and somehow worthy of praise. Interesting dichotomy between sales and editorial.

Got a massage at four. Went from there to El Encanto to meet two old Tucson buddies, Carl Cole and Charlie Christie. I played in a band with Charlie (Fay Shaw and the Generation) and I lived one summer at Carl’s house. Many tales from several lost summers (1967-69), when we all lived at a ramshackle house we called affectionately “North Dodge Garage.” The co-ed strip poker games where a certain future publisher (not me) lost the final hand and had to take off his underpants. The time the cops surrounded the house to literally take down four miscreants off the roof (that was me). And other tales of sin and debauchery that my kids would love to hear about but never will.

Got home at 9:30, bone tired but happy.

“What child knows the true life of their parents? Only the ones with a parent stupid enough to keep a blogger journal.”

Sunday, June 08, 2003

June 8, 2003
Yesterday T. Bell and I went into Scottsdale and saw “L’auberge Espagnole” which means a Euro Pudding, I think. It was a French film with Spanish, German and English all mixed in a big ball of a plot about seven some odd kids in a flat in Barcelona, Spain. Really enjoyed it (8). Quite original and funny. And, of course, Tommy is going to Spain to study so it was inspiring.

Afterwards we met Kathy, Deena, Debbie and Betty at Taco Villa for dinner. Had the barbacoa (BBQ of goat’s head meat). Really awesome ($77 house account). Fun talking with all the Radinas and devouring the best Mexico City Mexican food in the Southwest..

Got a Billy floating in the sky as half-skeleton and half-buried for 122 years. Verdict still out. Working with good reference, and that always helps.

Got up this morning and bailed into a scratchboard of Billy. I really want a white cover with a stark, silhouette image. Studied several Mexican scratchboard artists, J.G. Posada being the most prominent. He did really cool, Day of The Dead images in stark scratchboard style from about 1880 thru the Mexican Revolution. Got a really strong image of Billy standing with rifle, and his pants are rotted away (from being underground for 122 years) and he looks a little moldy (in fact I rented “Beetlejuice” to study Michael Keaton’s “death” makeup). I think it may be the image. Need to sleep on it.

Finished around 1:30, swam laps, played in pool with kids and Kathy. Celebrated Father’s Day early because both kids are flying to New York tomorrow (T will be gone for 15 months, heading for Spain in fall). Deena got me a book on cover art. What a girl! And Tommy, the Bastard, got me “A Decade of Steely Dan” a group I absolutely despise. He knew it and made sure it was a decade’s worth and not just some random album. Ha. Really laughed over that one.

Steve Sampson came out to my office a couple months ago and pitched me on doing a talk at the Arizona Biltmore Resort on history. Steve wants to encourage Arizona heritage at the hotel and I was flattered and agreed to come speak for free at an event in April. I got there and Steve and his crew had gone to a bunch of trouble, with various speaking alcoves set up around the patio lawn (several authors were invited), with portable lights and microphones, etc. Well, as these things often go, maybe three people showed up (and one was the photographer). But I had a very nice talk and afterwards Steve thanked me and offered me dinner and I said I’d take a rain check. On Friday night Kathy and I showed up and got the royal treatment. It was really a special birthday for Kathy and for that I’m a huge fan of Steve Sampson. Really a class guy.

“When I was losing, they called me nuts. When I was winning they called me eccentric.”
—Al McGuire

Saturday, June 07, 2003

June 7, 2003
If all of yesterday’s creepy coincidences aren’t enough to make you feel like we are living in a three degrees of separation world, keep reading.

The governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, has named—ta-da!—Paul Andrew Hutton the historical advisor on the Billy dig (Paul is hoping the gov doesn’t read my journal). Another small world connection: Hutton, Fusco and I love to stay at Casa de Patron in Lincoln. In fact, here’s the opening line of dialogue from “Young Guns”: "Now, I say, we stop off at Juan Patrón's for one jolly big dram and one ginger beer with a dollop of whipped cream"

I must admit if I saw all of this in a movie I wouldn’t believe it.

On Thursday morning Bob Brink came into my office with a glint of the wolf in his eye. He told me the New York Times had put Billy the Kid on the front page and that we needed to be “all over this,” and own the story. I trust his instincts implicitly (he ran the Hearst magazine division for several decades), so we pulled in R.G. and immediately started talking about putting Billy on the cover of the next issue (October) and deciding who would write it (Jana). The one concern we all had was that by the fall this story could be deader than Martha Stewart’s stock options.

I woke up yesterday morning with a crazy notion. Even though the current issue is good and done and goes out the door Monday to the printer, should we seize the moment and rip up the Pancho cover, carve out enough pages inside and essentially do a “Stop the presses!”? R.G. liberated the pages (Mormon handcart story) and we conferenced Jana and asked her if she could turn the story in by Monday morning. She said she’d try (and in fact, Jana turned in her 1,500 word piece yesterday afternoon complete with quotes from Fusco, the NY Times writer, Hutton, the Hico representative, the Lincoln County sheriff, the NM governor’s office, among others. It is a total joy working with such a consummate professional). Now the only problem remaining is what to do about the cover. As I left last night the whole staff was gathered around Robert Ray’s computer looking at Daniel’s composite layout which includes Pancho and Billy. It doesn’t quite work. We are hanging out now bigtime. I hope to get something going this weekend.

Came home, swam laps, then Kathy and I drove in to the Biltmore for a birthday dinner for her (she’s 53). We ate at Wright’s (as in Frank Lloyd) and the hostess said, “Right this way,” and took us into the wine room where they had a private table with four candles. There was a gift on the table for Kathy (a beautiful candle), The wine steward got us champagne and they basically waited on us hand and foot. It was a delightful meal and when it came time to pay, the waiter said, “This is on Steve.”

I’ll tell you who Steve is tomorrow.

“The only people you should worry about getting even with are the people who helped you.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, June 06, 2003

June 6, 2003
It’s a small world. Yesterday’s New York Times had a front page feature on digging up Billy the Kid. This is not news to us, but for some reason the efforts of the sheriff of Lincoln County, who I met at the Ruidoso gunfight show a week and a half ago, has really captured the imagination of the media. Basically they want to dig up Billy’s mom, who’s buried in Silver City, NM and get a sample of her DNA to check it against Brushy Bill who claimed to be Billy and died in Hico, Texas in 1950, or so. Brushy came to New Mexico in 1950 asking for a pardon, but couldn’t remember names and dates and pretty much was written off as a hoaxer. There was a flurry of these old guys, who claimed to be Jesse James, etc. In fact, at first, Brushy Bill claimed to be a member of the James gang, then switched to Billy.

Fast forward to the 1980s and the “Young Gun” movies, which dusted off the Brushy Bill legend and used it to great effect. In fact it resurrected Brushy Bill from anonimity and today they have a museum in Hico and a spirited debate with Fort Sumner, NM as to whether Pat Garrett really killed Billy there, or whether he killed another guy and let Billy escape (and the guy who escaped was Brushy Bill).

Our intrepid reporter, Jana B. is working on a story about the new $80 mil Disney movie “Hidalgo” which is coming out later this year. As the New York Times article broke yesterday I called Jana about writing the Digging Up Billy story. Here’s the small world part: both “Hidalgo” and the “Young Guns” movies were written by John Fusco who Jana has been interviewing on the “Hidalgo” story.

It gets smaller. Jana interviewed Paul Andrew Hutton regarding “Hidalgo” and he is on record as saying, “John Fusco is my hero.” Several days ago I said in my journal here that I want to be Paul Andrew Hutton when I grow up. I got an E-mail from John Fusco saying, “You may want to be Paul Andrew Hutton when you grow up but I want to be BBB when I grow up.” Very small world indeed.

By the way, here’s two good looks at Casa de Patron B&B in Lincoln, NM. Billy the Kid was held in this house as a prisoner, and he played cards and essentially had the run of the place. He still does. And when you stay there you can just feel his prescence. Check out their website at

“It may be a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”
—Steven Wright

Thursday, June 05, 2003

June 5, 2003
Well, I had three doctor appointments yesterday. The first one said, "You’ve never smoked, your blood is normal, your liver is normal, your heart is normal. You really are a normal guy aren't you?" And I said, "This is the one time I'm taking that as a compliment."

Got the artwork and photo layouts down to Daniel at 8:30. Got some good input from him. He definitely thinks we need a photo of the dead Pancho (he’s shot to pieces). “We’ll run it small,” he said with a grin.

I got a physical at my third doctor appointment and they had me strip down. The doctor, a female, said, “Lean down and put your elbows on the examining table like this,” and she shows me. I go down and say, “Man, I’ve heard this one before,” as she pokes a gloved finger in one of my more introverted orifices. Then I had to cough but evidently they don’t ask you to turn your head anymore. A few more probes later, the doctor leaves and the nurse comes in and says, “Wow! Why was the doctor laughing so hard in here?” And I say, “Probably because she had to look at my penis.” And the nurse looks at me like I’m an animal. Actually, like I’m a dead animal—squashed road kill. Is it just me or have most of the people in the medical profession had humor bypasses?

Got back to office around three. Caught the tail end of a financial meeting, then bailed into finishing Classic Gunfights. Here’s four of the pieces for that feature. I think these are a little more successful than the Pancho marathon stuff. I’m anxious to see the real Turkey Creek Canyon (we are flying over next weekend) and gauge how far off my imagination took me.

Got home around six, ate and swam laps (don’t worry, I waited 20 minutes). Beautiful night out. Water great. Realized people from France would probably pay big money to be swimming in this pool in the middle of the high Sonoran Desert, right across from a Hohokam cave, with a fetching blond in a pool deck chair gazing languidly at a cherry pink sky. Although they probably wouldn’t pay for our dog Peaches, the chicken killer, who was panting and looking perplexed at me with a look that seemed to say, “Why would anyone voluntarily go in the water like that.” Maybe Peaches was a nurse in a former life.

“Painting a picture is like fighting a battle. It is the same kind of problem as unfolding a long, sustained, interlocked argument.”
—Winston Churchill

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

June 4, 2003
I completely failed on the big Pancho. Ran out of gas at eight yesterday and took in the two decent Panchos to the office. Finally, here they are in all their modest hues. The very first one I did, a week ago (the vignette one) is probably the cover. I may try to salvage the Winchester-lightning bolt one, but it’s too late for this issue. There is another one that I’m not even posting that also has potential.

I’m driving in 33 miles to visit my best pitcher Dan “The Man” Harshberger to try and get a good cover going.

Also have three doctor appointments today. We got the bill for hospitalization—$12,000 for three days. I thought I’d never live to say this, but thank God for insurance. Our co-pay is $400.

The diet is going great but I agree with Erma.

“I come from family where gravy is considered a beverage.”
—Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

June 3, 2003
Woke up at four worrying about cover art. Wrestled with a big lightning bolt Pancho image last night. Finished around 9:30. Unfortunately, this morning it looks like bad calendar art in a gritty Mexican food cafe (not that it’s a bad thing). Worked on a big laughing face of Pancho this morning, trying for a Van Gogh color scheme. Inspired to use the cover blurb: “An Outlaw Named Dorothy.” Pancho’s real name was Dorotea.

Got some good passages going on face. Need to re-attack Pancho riding out of a cloud. Foreground still hanging out. Saddle unfinished, Pancho’s right leg, Uncle Sam running away, skeletons applauding Pancho’s leap into the U.S., Mexican village with the church steeple sticking up over the skyline. Just typing this, one thing is obvious: I’M OVER-PRODUCING HERE!!!!!

Worked out production problems on Pancho layout yesterday in office. Sometimes I feel like if I’m not in the office every second the graphics will slide all the way down to the level of a high school newspaper. I was telling R.G. and Robert Ray we started out in Little League (1999), matriculated through Pony League, college ball, bounced around the minors (AA Des Moines), and we are finally in the Bigs. We’re hitting a modest .195 and we have problems at the plate with left-handers. Fielding is better. Many good defensive stops. We’ve got decent stats on the road, but someone stole our glove. It was “a gamer.” My best pitcher is a free agent who lives 33 miles from the dugout. I want to use him more, but we are over the salary cap.

Sorry, sometimes I get carried away on my baseball metaphors.

“Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.”
—Orson Rega Card

Monday, June 02, 2003

June 2, 2003
Playing with a possible cover head: “Before Saddam, there was Pancho.” Maybe too current, but when you think about it Pancho looks a lot like Saddam and he attacked us and we never got him either. And we had airplanes! (1915) Ha.

Got three cover paintings going Sunday morning (10:24 AM). All have good potential. I’ve been putting in a green sky with lightning coming in from the upper left hand corner. I did the first one rather tight (on purpose) then did the second looser and it really has some movement (that’s a good thing). May do it on a third. Got the inspiration to have the lightning hit Pancho’s rifle and create an excalibur effect. Worried. Sometimes my ambition outstrips my talent. Here goes....

Laid in some sweet yellows and greens (still trying to capture the color scheme of the Mexican flag. However, switched to red and got the wrong one. Ouch! Really tough. Took a break at 1:50 to deal with a family crisis (should freeloaders who party all night and sleep all day pay rent?). Swam laps for a half-hour (water a comfortable 95 degrees). Felt good. First exercise since my hospitalization.

Took a shower, came out and re-attacked Pancho-vignettes. Still hopeful (2:33). Struggling with color scheme. Playing lost and found: cover an area in a complimentary color then try to work on negative space to retrieve the background image behind it. When it works it’s a thing of magic. When it doesn’t, it sucks so bad. Trying to stay in the game (5:40). Ate dinner with family, my mom called from Wyoming. Took a “nap.” Verdict still out. Seems a mess. May call it a night. Need to finish by tomorrow. Pressure. Got to move. Can’t quit now.

Took another stab after dinner. Painted myself right in a corner. Tommy came in with Paul and they wanted to play me their new songs. Put tape in, listened. Kind of Nirvana-ish, okay, no lyrics, just scatting and mumbling. I guess the thing that bugs me is they don’t have a name for their band. You have to have a cool name before you learn the first song. It’s a rule written in stone (very old stone). Anyway, I’m overproducing (both in painting and parenting) and I need to lighten up. Knocked off painting at 10:30

Got up at five and re-attacked big Pancho Rider painting. Evened out the sky, saved the left arm. Transitions at bottom are still really hanging out. (6:33). Need to go into work and deal with a layout problem. Issue goes to press a week from today.

"God writes a lot of comedy. The trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny."
 —Garrison Keillor

Sunday, June 01, 2003

June 1, 2003
Well,, the year is almost half over and I made a vow on Jan. 1 that I would clean my studio and get my life in order and it still is a pit (the studio and my life). Perhaps I need to order a variation on that famous tombstone epitaph, “Never Did Lose That Twenty Pounds.”

Yesterday I bailed into a Pancho Villa cover with the revolutionary bandit King holding a Winchester over his head, big, wide open mouth, no doubt yelling out “Arriba Hombres!!” (had excellent reference from a Mexican cinema poster book). Got the Mini Me saddle horn in, left a big hole, or neutral space, on the left side for type. It’s about half done. Got to be careful and bold at the same time. Hard to do. Woke up this morning obsessing about it. Finally came out at 6:30.

Also yesterday, Kathy, Thomas and I met at Desert Ridge to see “A Mighty Wind.” Ticket total was $19.50 (and that’s with T. utilizing his student discount!). Of course I flashed back to the State Theatre in Kingman where a Saturday movie was a quarter and if you could pass for twelve (something I could do when I was 19) you’d get in for 15 cents. How did those people make a living!? Back to the present, I got a small popcorn for $2.75, then we sat through way too many commercials, maybe ten minutes worth, before we even got to the previews. It’s oppressive. Movie was very sweet and clever (8.5). I really enjoyed it. Not many people in theatre, they were all lined up in front of “Daddy Daycare,” the new Eddie Murphy pile of dog doo doo (listen to me, I haven’t even seen it and I saw a little tyke running out of the theatre yelling, “I want to see Daddy Daycare again Daddy!” so what do I know?).

Afterwards we decided to go eat some Mexican food so we went to Shelmita’s, the place where our Conversational Spanish teacher took us for our final exam. Because of this new diet, I had to eat fish, so Kathy and I split the combo Pescado Especial ($28). Food was very good, but total was close to $60 with tip. Ouch! Too much money for a casual Saturday outing. When a movie and a meal wrecks a $100 bill, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore (Hello New York prices!).

I picture myself in our house on Ashfork Avenue, with the big B on the screen door. It's 1959, and I'm asking my dad, “Hey dad, can I have $100 to go see a movie?” I think you can easily visualize the look on my dad’s face.

I promise to post some of the new artwork and the Elfego sketches sometime this week, but keep in mind my New Year’s Resolution.

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
 —Theodore Roosevelt