Thursday, June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004
On Tuesday night I drove over to the Saguaro Ranch in Peoria to watch Billy the Kid (1941) starring Robert Taylor. After the film I got up and ruined the movie for everyone. Actually I remember seeing the film at the State Theatre in KIngman about 1957 and only retained the ending, where the Kid puts his gun on his right hip (he’s left-handed in the film) and lets the Garrett character (called inexplicably Jim Sherman) shoot him down. The titles at the beginning stated that the movie was “suggested by the book The Saga of Billy the Kid (1924) by Walter Noble Burns. I’m not sure exactly what was suggested but it had nothing to do with plot, dialogue or setting. All the outdoor shots were done in Arizona as they cut between Old Tucson, Sedona and Monument Valley. In fact the last scene was filmed at Bell Rock near Sedona and you couldn’t film anything there today without tripping over condos.

Drove into Phoenix late this morning and had lunch with Jana B. at My Florist Cafe at Seventh Ave. and McDowell. Big, hip urban cafe (in a former florist building, of course). Everyone who’s anyone was in the house and of course, they all know Jana. The Gov’s staff and a Democratic pollster were waiting for their car when we left and Jana introduced me. The pollster reported they are expecting the latest poll results tomorrow and Kerry is within “the margin of error” zone, which means, according to the pollster, it’s a dead heat. Jana was pleased.

I had the Rueben and iced tea, Jana had the portabello and we split a cie beouse ($39.78, includes tip). Talked quite a bit about the tone in the magazine and direction. One of my new reference points is HBO’s Deadwood, which seems to be on everyone’s radar now. In fact, I got a call before I left this morning from Tom at Marketshare, a mailing company located in Kansas, and he said he just came out of a meeting and they were all talking about whether Deadwood is accurate or not, so he calls me for the lowdown.

Jana loves the show, as does Kathy. We finally saw the finale, which ran last Sunday and it was excellent, although they kind of beat up on General Crook, and I don’t quite know why. He’s a real general and had a lot of integrity here in Arizona, before he lost his gig because of Geronimo (who got drunk and burned Crook at Canyon de los Embudos).

Stopped by Dan Harshberger’s studio and talked page design and future covers. He’s always fun to work with although we’ve only been doing this since 1972, so maybe it won’t work out.

Took advantage of being in town and stopped at Arizona Art to get some Esdee scratchboard and heard the bad news that the company is no longer making product. The clerk didn’t know if they are out of business or not (they’re in England). I bought a bunch ($98 biz account). Then stopped at All About Comics and picked up a back ordered graphic novel I want to steal from, I mean, be inspired by. The Adventures of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth ($19.87 cash). It was highly recommended by Carson Mell, and has superb graphics. One of the cover blurbs is by David Sedaris who gushes, “So real and awkward, it almost feels wrong to read it.” Dave Eggers is even more gushing, “Arguably the greatest achievement of the form, ever.” Hmmmm. I’ll check it out tonight and let you know what I think.

Got back to the office around 2:30. RG and Meghan are in Mesquite, Nevada at the Western Writer’s Conference. Seth Hoyt is visiting and his booming voice can be heard up in Carefree, without a phone.

James Joyce came in and visited this afternoon. He is the tv documentary producer I worked with on the History Channel’s Wild West Tech. He’s in town to visit his parents and see the Yankees play the D-Backs tonight at BOB (Bank One Ballpark, although Chase Bank just bought Bank One, so the name is up in the air). We talked about new shows they are working on. He’s doing a cool one on mammoth car engines which should be way bitchin’, and then of course, the talk turned to, Deadwood. James related how he didn’t like the show at first (everyone says this!), but then by the third show he was hooked. We talked about the big sexual showdown between Seth Bullock and Elma Garrett and whether they used stunt breasts, or not. He’s plugged in to the biz and promised to find out. The other thing he noted was the unique camera tracking about half way in. It was quite stunning and different and I’ve got to go back and watch it again, because they were doing something very different, showing people walking, the camera moving, cutting away at odd times. It was quite profound, I can’t quite explain it.

And, finally, here’s a Deadwood question to ponder. Take out all the swearing, replace the actors with Western stalwarts like Bruce Boxleitner as Seth Bullock, Harry Carey, Jr. as the doctor, Sam Elliott as Al Swearengen, Tom Berringer as Cy, Melissa Gilbert as Trixie. Would the show be as successful? Hmmmmmm.

“Discussing how old you are is the temple of boredom.”
—Ruth Gordon

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