Saturday, July 31, 2004

July 31, 2004
Kathy and I are in San Fran probably freezing our arses off. Lows in the 50s, highs in the low 70s. Too weird. Every time we go I always quote Mark Twain here.


Don’t forget to vote on the new t-shirt designs and then come back here and tell me about it.

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." —Mark Twain

Friday, July 30, 2004

July 30, 2004
The staff has been working hard on some new t-shirt designs and we are ready for you to take a good hard look and tell us if you like ‘em, and more importantly, would you wear ‘em? You can click right here to vote. Keep in mind you can only vote for one in each category, but if you like more than one, come back here and click on the top of the page and tell me your thoughts and opinions, or you can send me an email by clicking here.

Thanks.

"Remember "I" before "E," except in Budweiser."
—Professor Irwin Corey

Thursday, July 29, 2004

July 29, 2004
Need to get organized for my final push on my two books which are due soon. Worked until around nine last night, stacking up all of my reference photos and clip art. Created about ten piles and started in. Got up this morning and finished at about 11. Here are my basic filing categories:

• Mexican cliffs and dramatic skies (I’ve probably taken at least 500 shots of sunsets, monsoon storms and Divisidero-type canyons. In fact I took 12 rolls on just one trip to Copper Canyon in 1996)
• Comics (from original Beadle’s Dime Novels to 1950s comic book titles, Kid Colt and White Savage)
• Tribal Training (runners in the dark, swimmers, bow and arrow shooters, hoop and pole gamers, etc.)
• Cavalry scouts and horse soldiers (original photos of Fort Huachuca cavalrymen, oodles of assorted Apache War participants)
• Oddities (calves with two heads, cartoonists actually working, stuff like that)
• 1880s Characters (miners, cowboys, Mexican vaqueros, Apaches and fledgling adobe towns)
• Flag Drapery (almost everyone has wrapped themselves in an American flag at one time and I’ve got the reference to prove it)
• Tombstone reference (the town, the graves, the Earps, the Clantons, the movies, the O.K. Corral)
• 1950s Road Reference (Route 66, Kingman, Bulgemobiles, Montgomery Wards catalogues, goofy teenagers with low pants and white t-shirts, fast girls with rocket ship bras)
• Horsemanship (old and new photos of riders, cowboys, movies, Indians and SASS shooters)
• Snobby Commentators (random clipped photos of newsmakers being pompous, outraged, holier than thou and pathetic. Huge file, great stuff)
• Dogs, coyotes and one-eyed wolves (plenty of goofy shots of Mexican dogs, Buddy Boze Hatkiller, Peaches, Smokey, Dusty, Apache, wild wolves, scraggly coyotes and assorted mutts looking scraggly and game)

Need to go home and pack for trip to San Francisco tonight. Kathy and I are flying out at four. Staying downtown, going directly to Sam Wu's in China Town and Skoma's and Cliff House. Oh, and don't forget The Argonaut Bookstore. Can't wait. One of my favorite destinations.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
—Beverly Sills

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

July 28, 2004
As of 7 p.m. tonight I’ve been married to the same woman for 25 years. Amazing. But the bigger, and even more amazing statement is this: one woman has put up with me for 25 years. That is bordering on semi-sainthood. I’m buying flowers tonight, and we’re flying to San Francisco tomorrow evening.

If I had to ascribe the reasons for this improbable accomplishment, I would have to say it's partly a combination of luck, communication skills and the ability to forgive (on both sides). But our biggest ace in the hole has always been this cold, hard fact: it’s hard to be mad at someone who makes you laugh.

This morning Julie Rose and I drove out to Litchfield Park to meet with Tom Swinford at his new book store. It’s about an hour jaunt to the West and I hadn’t been out there since my high school basketball team played Agua Fria High School and we had to have a police escort out of town (it seems when they visited Kingman and beat the snot out of us as they invariably did, several ne’er-do-wells in a big Impala followed their bus out of town and tried to run them off the road. So, when it was our turn to visit them, well, they reciprocated). Tom’s store is beautiful and chocked full of Custer-mania. Great posters, maps and paintings of the Little Bighorn battle. We took photos for his ad in the next issue, then he took us across the street to Zamora’s for a great Mexican food lunch. Had the tampiquena and horchata (a sweet Mexican drink). Tom bought.

On the drive back out to Cave Creek Julie and I shared many of our New Times tall tales and this took up almost the entire drive as we laughed and laughed (in sales they had a drinking game called “Jim Larkin’s Head”), and although every story is painfully true, I’m not sure anyone else would believe them. That was truly a legendary place to work, full of bigger-than-life penis heads and pirates (and that's just the owners).

Got back into the office at two, had an executive session and went over finances and circulation issues. Sometimes it gets daunting but I think this quote says it all: “We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

"To some it's just a six-pack, but to me it's a ‘support group.’"
—Leo Durocher

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

July 27, 2004
Big storm rolling in again tonight (5:44 P.M.). Last night’s monsoon knocked out our electricity for about 45 minutes. Sat in the dark and tried to eat dinner. Batteries dead on both flashlights. Kathy finally went and got candles. Coolers went off, clocks went to blinking, coffee timer messed up. Man, we couldn’t survive for three days without electricity.

Speaking of which, I don’t want to name drop or anything, but the guy driving the truck carrying the transformer from Washington to Arizona that broke down in Victorville, California is dating someone I am related to, although she won’t admit it, and would kill me if she knew I told you. So I’m keeping my mouth shut.

Whipped out another six scratchboards today. Really cruising now. Subtle tones are a snap, finding other ways to feather and blend. It really is like exercising, the more you do it, the more you can do.

I was on such a roll, I didn’t want to come home for lunch so I walked down to Dairy Queen and got an ultimate burger and an iced tea ($4.87). The owner and his son chided me about how long it’s been since I’ve been in (when our kids were little, we lived at Dairy Queen). The owner asked me how many people worked in my office and I said 13. He told me he has been wanting to come down to True West with their new hit moo-lattes for everyone and he plans to do it next week. I love this about a small town. The Dairy Queen guy being a good neighbor. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Big thunder and wind rolling through right now (5:50 p.m.). Peaches is under my desk with her chin on my feet. She hates thunder. No driving threats, yet.

No, wait. She’s barking (5:55 p.m.). “Let me drive the truck,” she’s saying clearly. “I just need some doggy papers. I’ll be right back. I promise. Dog’s honor.” Sure, Peaches, sure. Get in there you little bitch!

Got a cool scratchboard going of Powers Booth as Curly Bill saying one of his famous lines from Tombstone. We are trying to make it into a t-shirt design. Should be quite clever.

“The desire of appearing clever often prevents our becoming so.”
—Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Monday, July 26, 2004

July 26, 2004
Woke up at 5:30, had a cup of coffee in bed, got up at six, came out and honed in copy from weekend “Insurgent” steal-a-thon. Also did a quick lightning storm a al scratchboard last night, whipped out another one at lunch (came home and had leftover tacos). Got the reference from a book I bought in Bisbee called “1,000 Photo Icons: George Eastman House”. In it are classic images going back to the early 1800s, including a series of lightning images by William N. Jennings, taken in 1882! Incredible. So I like the crackled primitive nature of these older prints, as opposed to the slick, pushed, long-exposured-purple-photographs you see in Arizona Highways. Of course I added subtle skeletons and skulls in the sky (I’m getting this scraperboard deal down). This afternoon I did a very ambitious bartender image for the Classic Gunfights, Volume II book. Working hard with Robert Ray and Gus to maximize the effects of scratchboard. Not easy as the tiny scratches mush out at about 40% reduction and this presents a problem, although Robert Ray assures me he can handle anything. He’s scanning them as half-tones then converting them to bit-maps to recreate the line-shot effect of the original. I simply have to let go, trust him and let him do it.

This morning we had a very productive t-shirt pow wow. We are designing a whole new batch of shirts for our fall line (2 women designs and 3 men) and we went over all the designs that Abby and Gus produced last week. Lots of good feedback. Two were unanimous choices, everything else fell between “needs work” and “I don’t get it.” Paul from the Cowboy Company came over at lunchtime to borrow our xerox machine and I corralled him into looking at the designs. He made several choices and rejected a couple, and he gave us several retail secrets: black always outsells white, people will not buy the last shirt. If it’s on a rack all by itself, people will avoid it. Must be something wrong with it. Nobody likes it, I kind of like it, but I’ll never take the risk of getting it and having people laugh at me. Never mind that people will scarf up a pile of 30 rejects and fight over the pile down to the last one. Think about it people: isn’t 30 shirts on a liquidation rack more of an indication of failure and loser-dom than one shirt? Evidently it’s on our DNA (“Whatever you do in life, don’t buy the last shirt!”

We’ll be posting the finalist t-shirt designs up here on the website in the next day or so.

Got a massage from Christie at four ($50 house account), came home, swam laps with Buddy Boze Hatkiller. Peaches kept hitting me up to drive Kathy’s car again. I checked her doggy-prozac bottle and she hasn’t been hitting that. Maybe it’s the new haircut. Women can get so touchy and odd after a bad haircut.

Big monsoon blowing in right now (6:44 p.m.) One of my framed pictures fell off the wall and the glass shattered all over the studio floor.

“Let art alone—she’s already got enough guys sleeping with her.”
—Sherwood Anderson?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

July 25, 2004
Just got some female rain (4:10 p.m.). We needed it, cooled everything off. Back from the Westin Hotel stay. Had the Radina’s over for a big pool party and suite feed last night. Brad (who wore his True West Maniac t-shirt), E.J., ‘Cedes, Betty and Debbie joined us, along with Deena, Mike and Tommy.

When we woke up this morning we had two extra women in the house, Ursula and Lori. Took them all out to breakfast after we checked out at noon. Went down to The Eggery at Scottsdale Rd. and Thunderbird ($62 house account). On Friday night we wandered through Kierland Commons and ended up at Ra Shushi for dinner. Place packed with hipsters and beautiful people. fit right in. Ha. ($42 cash, includes tip).

Spent almost all weekend reading and stealing snippets from John Reed’s “Insurgent Mexico” which I borrowed from Bart Bull (isn’t that double indemnity?). A true revolutionary book in more ways than one. Written in 1914, it is a classic war correspondent’s dispatches from the front in the Mexican Revolution. You can see and feel Reed’s influence in almost everything done on the border since then. He spent two weeks with Pancho Villa in Chihuahua City and his insights and descriptions of the revolution are masterful, poignant and worthy. He is the war correspondent who later wrote “Ten Days That Shook The World,” and while I haven’t read that classic, I can see why his writing is worshipped and revered. Here’s a sample of his first person account of a lonely outpost being overrun: “We could see them now, hundreds of little black figures riding everywhere through the chaparral; the desert swarmed with them. Savage Indian yells reached us. A spent bullet droned overhead, then another; then one unspent, and then a whole flock singing fiercely. Thud! went the adobe walls as bits of clay flew. Peons and their women rushed from house to house, distracted with fear. A trooper, his face black with powder and hateful with killing and terror, galloped past, shouting that all was lost.” Reed is also very evocative, as in this scene, on the march on a cold winter morning: “The [troops] were wrapped in serapes up to their eyes, so that they looked like colored toadstools under their great sombreros. The level rays of the sun. . .caught them unaware, glorifying the serapes to more brilliant colors than they possessed.”

Thomas, Kathy and I sat out on the patio and watched the rain as Peaches took refuge under Kathy’s chair, hiding from the thunder as it rolled across the Seven Sisters. Forced Tomcat to watch the first thirty minutes of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.” I know it pretty much by heart now and I’ve become one of those hated movie watchers who interrupt every thirty seconds with, “Okay, watch for the looped in dialogue by the Italian priest, playing a Spanish priest and dubbed into English. It’s going to be hilarious. Okay, now, watch for the so-called ‘grotto scene’ where Eli Wallach overdubbed his voice forty years after the fact. Ha. Ha. Ha. Isn’t this great?”

“Actually, no dad. Just let me watch the god-damned film by myself. I’d sort of like to enjoy it first—then you can ruin it, like you’ve ruined everything Western in my entire life.” (he didn’t actually say these words, but that’s what my “critic voice” imagines him saying after one of my “Western spells”.)

“‘Hello,’ he lied.”
—Don Carpenter quoting a Hollywood agento

Friday, July 23, 2004

July 23, 2004
Spent the night at the BBB suite last night. Kathy brought cheese, apples and pears and we munched around. Looked at Tomcat’s Egypt photos. Really incredible stories. They eat camel, etc.

Got into the office this morning at nine. Had a meeting with George Mongon who is the planning and development guy for the Buffalo Billy Historical Center in Cody. He would like us to work with them on various projects and we expressed interest (actually lust) for their incredible photo collection.

Whipped out another five scratchboards. Really rippin’ ‘em out now. Just proofed the next issue’s letters to the editor and it is the best set of letters we have ever run. Really cantankerous, petty, mean, opinionated, stupid and brilliant. It reads, as RG puts it, “like an article.” Makes me very happy.

Got so wound up, forgot to eat lunch (remember kids, work is only work if you’d rather be someplace else.)

Speaking of work, got forwarded this e-mail from our production manager, Robert Ray: "People leave managers not companies...in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue. The effect of poor management is widely felt. When the Web site Badbossology.com did its own online survey of 1,118 people, it found that fully half of us working slobs would fire our own bosses if we could. Nearly 30 percent would have their boss seen by a workplace psychologist, but just 23 percent would send their boss for management training. Bad bosses are bad for business.”

Thank God, he’s not talking about me.

“There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, July 22, 2004

July 22, 2004
I stayed up until 9:45 last night working on three more scratchboards to make my quota. Whipped out some dandys, including a desert lightning storm and Britney Spears looking like marriage material, or should that be jail bait material? Okay, yes, it should.

Had lunch with my old bookstore pal Randy Edwards today. We went down to El Encanto (he bought). He and Doc Ingalls and Thadd Turner are planning a huge O.K. Corral event for the 125th anniversary in two years. Very exciting. They may draw 35,000 people down there, which would a huge logistical problem, but a good problem nonetheless.

Got Peaches groomed today. Kathy had to drug her (she hates to go in the car) and although Kathy only gave her half a doggy-prozac, Peaches was drooling and at one point demanded to drive Kathy’s car: “I can drive, bitch!” she kept barking. “I can drive!!” We picked her up at three and she looks wonderful and alert. Listen up dawgs, don’t do drugs.

Have we as a nation just gotten a tad ridiculous recently, or what? I was listening to the news and some trucker was complaining about a new law that says they can’t drive for more than 11 hours because some advocacy group calling themselves “Mothers Against Tired Truckers” got a bill passed. I’m not making this up. What’s next? Mothers Against Sleepy Nightwatchmen? Excuse me, nightwatchpersons.

The whole damn family is on their way down to Scottsdale to check into the Bob Boze Bell suite at a certain plush hotel that rhymes with Restin (Mothers Against Restin’ Waitresses). Tomas called and raved about how ridiculous the suite is and he’s right. Kathy made the bell-boy read my bio, on the wall, where it says I was the valedictorian of my high school, which is a complete lie (Mothers Against Lying Sacks of Sugar-Coated Cartoonists).

I’m heading down there as soon as I finish this even though I have work to finish (Mothers Against Procrastinating Executive Editors).

”Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.”
—Old African Saying

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

July 21, 2004
Excellent day for scratchboard. I finished seven pieces and I’m in that zone where it really starts to flow. I have been inspired by a story I heard about Mick Jagger. Some writer was vacationing in the Bahamas area and Mick was his neighbor and the writer said every night Mick would sing along loudly to Stones songs (just the instrumental tracks) for two hours! I know, it sounds weird and kind of ego-maniacal, but he allegedly does it to keep his voice in shape, and I thought, Man, that is commitment. I need to do the same thing.

So I got up this morning at five and started doing my rooster strut around the foot of the bed, over to Kathy’s side and really started wailing at the top of my lungs, “I was born, in a cross-fire hurricane. And I howled at the mornin' driving rain. But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas, Jumpin’ Jack Flash it’s a gas, gas, gasssssssss. Hey, alright now! Git up on your feet Cleveland!”

Not really. It was actually "Midnight Rambler," followed by an eighteen minute version of "Honkytonk Women." Sadly, Kathy passed on the encore—"Satisfaction."

Actually, I did seven scratchboards, honking along and it feels so good. I want to do three more tonight so I can get in the groove to do 10 a day, which I think is a realistic number.

Tom Carpenter of Flagstaff sent me an article out of The New York Times on the current “graphic novel” phenom. The article, ("Not Funnies" by Charles McGrath, nytimes.com) which was quite inspiring also, said many cartoonists consider five completed drawings a day’s work. Well, I get no satisfaction (but I try, try, try) with that piddly number. I am a Kingman Kowboy Kartoonist and we draw that many before breakfast.

Highlights, at least for me, in the NYTimes piece: “the fastest-growing section of your local bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and so-called graphic novels.” Also, “there is something like a critical mass of artists, young and old, uncovering new possibilities in this once-marginal form.”

When the author mentioned to a friend that he was working on an article about graphic novels, his friend said, hopefully, “You mean porn?” And probably the comment that applies to me the most, “you have to be a bit of a weirdo to want to purse this odd and solitary art form. . .[and] for those who do stick with it, the career of the graphic novelist can be less a choice than a compulsion.”

Or as Dave Barry puts it, “There is a fine line between a hobby and mental illness.” The flash point for me happened at Gaviota’s just outside Bisbee, last April, when my border compadre, Bart Bull and I were having dinner in this fine Mexican food joint and we got to talking about my longtime idea to put out a series of graphic novels. Bart asked me what was stopping me and I said, “Well, I’m running a magazine, writing and illustrating several articles every issue and I’ve got another Classic Gunfights book to produce before Christmas.” Bart calmly said, “What if the graphic novel was entirely in black and white and 32 pages?” Wow! This simple question freed me. And here I am churning out the images, studying the classics (Robert Crumb, Sergio Leone and Diego Valasquez). I have actually scheduled the first graphic novel (I need the deadline pressure) to begin running in the magazine very soon and it will be in black and white and 32 pages. Thankyou Bart Bull.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.  It is the cumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.
—Jim Rohno

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

July 20, 2004
Got a great comment from a former magazine publisher (now a tv producer) up Boulder, Colorado way. He is doing a show called “Cowboy” for the Outdoor channel and wanted to talk about doing Classic Gunfights as a segment on the show. After some discussion I asked him how he found the magazine and he said he was in a bookstore in Boulder, saw the very dead John Wesley Hardin and said, “Now that’s a cover!” He was quite complementary about how edgy and crazy we are, bucking trends and “poking people with sticks.” This was music to my ears and just about flat made my day. Too bad I went to Sky Harbor today and saw 20 copies of our July issue sitting at eye level in a Terminal 3 newsstand. That brought me back down to earth (I’m hoping it’s a restocking and this is their second batch, can’t keep it in the store, eh?).

Kathy and I picked up Tommy at 11:30. The thing that was disconcerting to him as he flew into Phoenix was all the unused land. He’s referring to the leapfrogging syndrome so prevalent in Arizona and many parts of the New West. He didn’t remember it being that way (kids today!) and after a year in Spain where every town is efficiently centered and every space utilized and maximized, it was, well, culture shock.

We were supposed to meet his travelling partner Kendra and her father at Los Dos Molinos, but when we got out to the car and called Deena she got all teary because she had to be at work at two and wouldn’t be able to meet us if we went down to south Phoenix and she wanted to see her brother, dammit! Thomas and Kathy tried to go back into the terminal and find Kendra and her dad but they were gone. We called Los Dos several times and finally got through to the hostess who promised me she would find them and tell them we couldn’t make it. Hope she did. Got up to El Conquistador and met Deena and Mike at about one. It was mole Tuesday so Thomas, Kathy and Deena all had the special. I had the Conquistador tacos and an iced tea. Tomcat raved about Sonoran Mexican food and said it was the thing he missed the most about being over there. ($52 plus $10 tip cash).

Took Tomas out to our house and he was freaked out by the pavement on Cahava Ranch (it was dirt when he left). The dogs jumped all over him and of course Buddy jumped up and ate T’s hat.

Just kidding.

Some feedback from yesterday’s Latino Invasion comments:

“Very savvy view of the border situation, it seems to me (from where I sit seven miles from said border). Hadn't thought to compare it to the '49ers, or the incursion of gold seekers into the Black Hills--how true.

“One of the things that's regularly missed about the illegal border crossers, though, is that lots of them aren't from Mexico. A woman just died in the desert nearby last week from Brazil. No wonder the coat of Have isn't stretching to fit.
—Emma Bull, Bisbee

And here’s a comment by an ex-marine who’s initials are RG:

“The U.S. didn't take Texas from Mexico. The Texans won their freedom from Mexico in a revolution and then joined the United States. As far as the legality of the Texas Revolution, the Texans had as much right to take Texas from Mexico as Americans did in taking the original 13 colonies from Great Britain.

“California's Bear Flag Revolution, separating California from Mexico occurred before the '49ers headed there in their quest for gold. Therefore, they were entering California (already part of the U.S.) legally, unlike the Mexicans who are slipping across the border today.

“Of course, you know my motto: History is written by the victors.”

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
—Wayne Dyer

Monday, July 19, 2004

July 19, 2004
The Tomcat is coming home in the morning. I am counting the hours. Really excited to see my number one son.

One of our new sales people, Julie Rose, hit it out of the park today. Sold a full page ad to Tom Swinford of Swinford Rare books out in Avonadale (or is it Agua Fria, he’s wayyyyy out there). She and I are going out next week to take some photographs of his store. He’s a big Custer nut and I told him I had four rolls of Little Bighorn film to show him. Unlike my wife, he will look at every exposure with much enthusiasm.

Whipped out four scratchboards today. Little portraits for our Classic Gunfights Volume II. I am inspired by Sergio Leone who hopscotched between massive close-ups and wide-Cinerama-style shots. I love the form (scratchboard) and could do these ‘til the cows come home. Nailed a great Mexican Vaquero stolen out of the pages of the new book “I’d Rather Sleep In Texas.” James McAllen is one of the authors and he sent me a hardback, signed copy today and it looks wonderful. Really some great images in it. Some of my Renegade pals and I are thinking about meeting in Texas and driving down there. He’s the guy who told me this is an area that no one has written about and he also informed me they are closer to Mexico City than they are to Dallas. That actually says more about how much land we took from Mexico when we got the Lone Star State than it does about geographic anomalies. No wonder they were so upset at losing it.

On a related note, it appears Latinos are on the verge of winning it all back. I was watching HBO’s Latino Music Videos last night and I sat there with my mouth hanging open. Not only does Mexico have a thriving middle-class, but they have some amazing musicians and more than a few sexy homeys. A sure sign they are on the move and happening. I read in Sunday’s paper that Mexican immigrants in this country are sending home some $11 billion to their families in Mexico. Vicente Fox called them “the National heroes of Mexico,” as he should, since it's their biggest industry. Frankly, as much as people around here scream about their "illegal" presence, you can’t stop a tidal wave, and it is no different than when the 49ers invaded California (not the football team but the actual 1849ers who were gold diggers, you know?). They were illegal also, and did it stop them? I don’t think so. Culture always wins, especially when it is juiced up and rarin’ to go. Get ready for a salsa invasion that is already underway, seniors and senioritas.

“Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 18, 2004

July 18, 2004
Another scorcher. Stayed close to the pool all day. Swam twice, went for a walk early and got rocks (3). Kathy and I met Deena and her boyfriend Mike up at El Encanto for brunch. Sat inside, but a surprising number of diners ate outside by the lagoon. Had the machaca and eggs. I bought ($35 bill, $7 tip, cash). Deena and Mike brought me home while Kathy went down to Costco for groceries, etc. I made Mike and Deena watch the first 30 minutes of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.” Mike had never seen it. He seemed to be awed by it, or at least I got him to admit he was, so I let him up off the floor and took my knees off his neck,

Carol from Casa Grande picked me up at the airport on Thursday night. She drove me out to Cave Creek. We go way back to KSLX days, when she was “Carol from Casa Grande,” and must have been all of 18. Also took her to El Encanto and treated her to margaritas and Mexican food. Kathy joined us ($95 house account, includes tip).

Worked on graphic novel most of the day. Did part of a scratchboard. Deena and Kathy went over to Grandma Betty’s to check on her, then they picked up some pizza from Barros’ on the way home. I went for another walk, hoping to meet them on the road but they still aren’t here (7:49 p.m.). Finished up in office, wrote this up and went over to the house to watch “The Girl With The Pearl Earring,” recommended by a certain editor of ours with the initials RG. We’ll see if he has a job tomorrow.

“Use an accordion, go to jail! That’s the law!”
—Vigilante’s warning

Saturday, July 17, 2004

July 17, 2004
Great day on the desert. Didn’t go anywhere. Wrote and researched all morning on the Apache scout graphic novel. Here’s a taste:

“Poison arrows are made from a deer’s spleen. We dry it first, then grind it up fine and mix it with a plant that has a burning taste, like chili. We put the mixture in a little sack made from part of a deer’s intestine. We spit in the bag and tie it up and hang it in a tree for about three to five days until it gets good and rotten. To make it really deadly, we try to get a pregnant woman to fart in the bag. Then we take it down and paint the mixture on the points of our arrows. When one of these arrows is shot into a deer, no matter if it merely scratches him, he will die in about eighty yards. This is how we make poison arrows except for the part about the pregnant woman. We just like to tell that to White people because they always believe us. It is only a joke.”

As ridiculous and absurd and made up as this may sound, this is almost verbati m from the book “Western Apache Raiding & Warfare” by Grenville Goodwin, who interviewed living Apache warriors in the 1930s. Many people aren’t aware that Native Americans have a good sense of humor, especially Apaches.

Also worked on several scratchboa rds with so-so results. Swam laps, took a nap. Watched more of the Richard Schickel narrative on “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.” Man, I enjoy that blamed DVD. A great Father’s Day present.

Kathy went up to Blockbuster last night and rented “The Trip lets of Belleville” a French animated film that came highly recommended. I won’t say who raved about it but all I can say is I’d like to get a pregnant Apache woman to fart in her hand bag. I should have known better because it’s FRENCH!!!! Man that movie was irritating to me. The drawings were good, but what the hell are those French people smoking? I usually like weird, but this was just irritating, to me.

Carole Glenn told me she heard Paul Harvey do his "Rest of the Story" about O Homo on Friday morn ing. This is the nude guy who walked into Tombstone in the 1880s and got arrested and became a national celebrity. Fly took a photo of him (he called himself O Homo) and we offered $500 (offer still stands) if anybody can find a photo of him. Many were pr inted as a novelty and sold for a buck. There has to be a copy somewhere, but so far, nothing has turned up.

“The world is proof that God is a committee.”
—Bob Stokes~

Friday, July 16, 2004

July 16, 2003
Back from the heartland. Got into Wichita at about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. Shuttle driver told me the population is somewhere around 340,000. The Radisson Hotel where we stayed was downtown right on the Arkansas River (by the way, there is a controversy about the pronunciation. In this neck of the woods it’s pronounced Ar-Kansas, like in the state of Kansas, and then somewhere south of here it changes back to the Arkansas River. Of course, the people in Arkansas hate this —“They are so wrong-headed up there!”—We need to do an article on all the goofy, conflicting pronunciations in the West.).

Taping was at the Old Cowtown Museum which is a wonderful venue. They’ve got three streets, inlcuding a train station complete with a railroad siding and boxcar. A working hotel with upstairs rooms, a working print shop. Everything is authentically done, not cheesy like many living history museums. We stuck our head in a random storefront and there were a group of girlscouts, all dressed in pioneer 1800s costumes doing an authentic Virginia Reel. Amazing). I was interviewed on the Daltons in the Saloon, of course. Big faro layout over my left shoulder. Interview went well. We had some problems with flies and I had to repeat several complicated answers—”That was great, can you do that again?”—and of course, I couldn’t do it again. It’s never as good the second time, because you’re trying to find the same words and you get hung up on rote rather than automatic. Other than that, I think it went well. The director, Hoyt (The Dirt Bike Kid) told me he thought it was a “grand-slam” interview, but I nver know until I see the final product. Sometimes I feel cocky and when I see the show I come off like an ugly goober and other times I just come off like a goober. The camera is a funny thing. When they say “the camera loves her” that is no frivolous metaphor. My relationship with the camera is somewhere betwen love-hate and an occasional passionate one night stand.

Speaking of the camera loving someone, one of my fellow talking-heads is as crazy as I am about Westerns. Case in point:

“Saw The Alamo for the 4th time two days ago ($1 movie house) and it wasn't quite as bad the 4th time as the previous three. Go Ahead!”
—Paul Andrew Hutton

Got an e-mail from Thomas who is back on American soil for the first time in a year. Here’s his comments:

“The culture shock hasn't been intense really. I feel like I never left but that might be because I always leave NY for a year before coming back. Everyone does seem to be in a hurry and I've realized that there's a difference between laziness and taking it easy. Taking it easy Americans could do more of. Cant wait to see you guys.
—Tomcat

Got a letter from Guy Jacquemin in Saint-Leger, Belgium. Here’s part of his letter:

“Dear Since,
I’m since one year about a great reader from your beautiful magazine (I’m a subscripter). I have not computer, and I like know if you can send me address from this advertisers nams from you issue July 2004:
• The Gunrunner Fine Firearms
• Lawman Badge Co.
• Old West Sign.com
• Circle KB
• Prairie Outfitters
• Silver J Western Wear

“Thanks for your help. I love your magazine, I’m a great Belgian fan from Old West history.”

"Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."
—Euripides

Thursday, July 15, 2004

July 15, 2004
I'm in lovely downtown Wichita, Kansas taping another episode of Investigating History for the History Channel. The reason this one is so short is I've got to bone up on the Daltons.

Here's one of the scratchboards I did for the Roots of Rodeo which is at the printer's even as you read this. Yes, it is a complete steal from Maynard Dixon. Just don't tell his estate.
 
 
 
 
 

"When you steal from one person it's called plagarism. When you steal from a
whole bunch of people it's called research."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

July 14, 2003
Tomcat called at 2:15 a.m. this morning and had a ticketing problem in Madrid. Kathy helped him get it fixed, but then I couldn’t go back to sleep. Finally drifted off, woke up groggy at 6:11, had coffee, tried to go for a walk with the dogs, met a hispanic crew trying to find a job with a bad map. Used my limited but forceful Spanish on them: “Yo no soy capitano, yo no soy capitano, can-to-lingo-y-pango-longo. . .bam-ba, bamba—bam-ba, bamba... “ Etc. They drove away with some wonderment at Gringos in plaid shorts, I’m sure.

Got into the office at 8:30, worked on t-shirt design slogans, e-mailed several to Dan Harshberger. Abby is working on a batch here. We’re trying to come up with three more. Robert Ray is tickled pink by the slogan: “Rodeo is number one, it just smells like number two.” He really wants that one to work. We’ll see. It’s not original. I saw it in the Phoenix Jaycee’s office in about 1986.

Went and got a haircut at noon from Paul the Barber (yes, in little Cave Creek, people actually go by that kind of moniker). Got mustache trimmed. He went too far (but then, what barber doesn’t? $16 cash). Went home and packed for trip. Tried to fix mustache, but of course made it worse. Look like Clark Gable without the good looks. Oh, well, it’s just the History Channel and it’ll probably only run for a couple decades.

Samantha is taking me down to Desert Ridge in about a half hour and I’m meeting Deena at Rock Bottom, a trendy cafe and brewery. We’ll have lunch and talk about her work problems and then she’ll drive me to Sky Harbor for my flight to Wichita.

Never been there. I’m kind of excited.

“Unlike manure, some memories get fresher with the years.”
—Bob Boze Bell

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

July 13, 2003
This morning we had the plumber come out to fix the water lines for our irrigation and for the new refrigerator which gets installed on Friday ($305 house account). Spending money like water, or should that be, on water?

Had a staff meeting at 8:30 and critiqued the newest issue. Many staffers actually liked the dead man cover (that was a surprise), but almost everyone hated the ad on page 71 (that was even more shocking, because everyone, except Gus, cringed). Love that Gus.

Crystal and Brittany just got back from a gargantuan roping road trip to Texas. They hit Amarillo, Fort Worth, Abiline, Denton and Midland. Gave out a ton of magazines and even sold one Maniac membership with a $50 tip thrown in, to boot. Crazy girls, both. Love them too.

I’m flying to Wichita tomorrow night for another History Channel taping. It’s Kurtis again, and this time he’s doing the Daltons. Looking forward to the cool weather in Kansas.

Just joking.

Tommy is back in Spain from Egypt. He leaves in the morning to return to the U.S. Here’s his last check-in from Valencia, Spain:

“Thanks for the advice with girls Dad. That´s so true about giving them compliments. I would´ve thought she heard that stuff all the time but apparently I´m the first ever! Your book (“A Caring Father”) sounds like a book a lot of people will be interested in, especially Lutherans. See you in a week.

“Egypt was pretty amazing. They claim to have 2/3 of the world’s ancient monuments. The highlights were the temple of Abu Simbel and the pyramids. The pyramid keops, which is the last remaining ancient wonder in the world, was mind boggling. Even driving up to them you don´t get a real idea of what they are. Not until you walk up and stand next to it does it sink in. One ton bricks, each as tall as me, cut before iron and moved before the wheel. We’re talking 3 million of these. You look up it and it looks just like a wall going into the sky. Keep in mind this was 5,000 years ago! I´ll be home soon so I´ll tell you the rest when I get back.

“I´m getting very anxious. I can´t drink coffee because I´m all jacked up. It´s like an intense jumble of excitement, nervousness and just plain stress.”
—Tomcat

Last night I watched the finale of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.” It was magnificent. The gunfight in the graveyard is just as spectacular as it was the first time I saw it at the Midway Drive-in in Tucson (1967). It’s got the expanse of “Gone With The Wind” and the style of David Lean meets Andy Warhol. Just so damn artistic and zany and Big as all outdoors. The bug-eyed close-ups, the twitching fingers (by the way, the accompanying doc told how Lee Van Cleef had a digit missing on his hand and Sergio Leone loved that and showed it whenever he could, and I never would have noticed if it weren’t for the DVD!). After it was over and I listened to the entire end song, I checked out the other special features and there is another version where movie critic Richard Schickle (sp?) talks over the entire movie and I’m watching that now, soaking up all the tidbits: Eastwood took Wallach under his wing on the shoot and protected him. This was Eastwood’s third Leone-Italian film and he was quite suspicious about what he perceived as a lack of safety on the set. In one scene, Tuco (Wallach’s character) runs down a road and Blondie, on horseback, picks him up on the run. Eastwood recommended they use a stunt double. Stuff like that. I’m just nutty for this stuff, and it applies directly to my job. Hey, I’m studying the Classics.

Forget Homer, Leone is The Father, The Son and The Holy Son of a Bitch who made Westerns fun again.

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, July 12, 2004

July 12, 2004
Watched another big swatch of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” last night on DVD. Sergio is at his best when he is stringing together the action (mostly gunfights) and their dramatic, twisting denouements: outlaw Tuco is going to make Blondie (Clint) hang himself but as Clint steps into the noose, while standing on a chair, an artillery shell comes thru the wall and sends Eli Wallach down to the sidewalk. For my tastes he is at his weakest when he does the Civil War scenes which kind of go on and on, in a kind of Steve Reeves-Babylon kind of throwback. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying it immensely, in fact I’m look forward to watching the ending tonight.

I love the Onion newspaper and their twisted headlines. Here’s a few of their latest:

• American People Ruled Unfit to Govern

• Hero Citizen Can Name All 50 States

• U.S. Changes Motto to ‘America. . .We’re Gonna Make Ya Smile’

• Riverboat Racing Fails Utterly

• Old Friend Avoided In Hometown Convenience Market

• 6-Year-Old Cries When Told MTM Productions Kitten Dead By Now


“Humor is the highest form of creativity. It is the hardest to produce and the most enjoyable to receive.”
—Steve Chandler

Sunday, July 11, 2004

July 11, 2004
Another scorcher out here on the desert. Must be about 105 out, doesn’t drop below 80 at night. This is our Hell season. Water in pool is lukewarm. Buddy Boze Hatkiller swam several laps with me this afternoon. On the third lap he caught up with me and pawed his way up on my shoulders. I really didn’t mind this, but he kept kicking with his hind legs which scraped me right in the crack of my you-know-where. This didn’t feel real good, so I stood up in the shallow end and flipped him over my head. He looked like the Walapais I grew up with doing a soft push off the diving board at the Kingman Muni pool, going almost all the way over and landing on the small of their backs which created one of those delayed concussion splashes, like a depth charge off a sub killer. Buddy didn’t like the style of the dive or the wet head deal and he gave me the biggest sad eyes I’ve ever seen as he swam for the steps.

Speaking of goofy animals, I was cleaning out a box in the garage this morning and found two photos of our ol’ King Kat, Big Tom. He really was a King. Lived on the roof, Dodged coyotes and owls and raccoons for about 11 years. One of the above got him, we assume. He just stopped showing up. Don’t know how or when. We miss the big goofus, although I can say with some sadness, he never swam laps with me.

Worked all morning on narrative for my upcoming graphic novel. Then switched gears and worked on a big gouache of El Lobo Con Un Ojo (the one-eyed wolf). Also whipped out a cool scratchboard of the face of my protagonist, closeup, monster lit. The balloon will say, “I just want to know the truth, Man”.

Kathy left at four to go stay with her mama. Debbie Radina stayed with Betty last night.

Big monsoon blowing in right now (6:23 p.m.) Blowing dust, wet air, not much else. We’ll read about all the damage in tomorrow’s paper.

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.”
—Garrison Keillor√É

Saturday, July 10, 2004

July 10, 2004
Joined Kathy and spent the night at Grandma Betty’s last night. Brought a baked chicken from Bashas’ and a salad, had a couple Soporos ( also bought some staples, $49 house account). Watched bad tv (Dean debates Nader) and went to bed early. Made Betty fresh squeezed orange juice this morning and cooked eggs, drank coffee and solved life. My kind of Saturday morning.

The well guy came out Thursday and told us an ant had gotten in the electrical system. They are evidently attracted to the hum of the pump. Poor little sucker crawled up between the connections, closed the circuit and got himself fried (keep in mind you are getting electrical information from a cartoonist). We came home today and the water was off again. Went out with a finger nail file and cleaned off the heads, after turning off the breaker switch of course, and it started right up, only this time we saved the $60 house call fee.

As for the fridge, it has a broken compressor (passed on the repair estimate—$450— paid $39 for the house call). Thanks to a tip from Mike, who reads this blog, Kathy went down to Sears at Paradise Valley Mall and scouted out the deals (0% financing for a year and a $40 haul away rebate), and this morning I went with her and helped her pick out a new unit. She was fretting on price and I asked her if she would consider a top of the line fridge a good enough 25th wedding anniversary present from me and she said it definitely would, so I signed up for a Sears card and bit the bullet for $2,400. Nice unit. Not the sexiest anniversary gift, but Kathy seems to be faking happiness good enough to fool me.

The heat is still stifling and I’ve been swimming twice today to cool off. Here’s what another reader of this blog has to say about that:

“Every one of the 20 summers I spent in Phoenix I believed it was definitely the Apocalypse. All I can say is that Ed Abbey would be good reading material for you about this time. And once the lights come back on and the popsicles refreeze, check out Soylent Green on DVD.”
—Sunny Hemphill, Wenatchee, WA (currently 72 degrees and pleasantly breezy)

“The ant is the hardest-working creature in the world—when someone is looking.”
—Mark Twain

Friday, July 09, 2004

July 9 2004
Today at 1:30 I finished the fourth piece of art for the Bat Masterson Classic Gunfight. Worked last night and this morning also. Good washes, feel strong. Got a very nice little vingette of Sgt. Melvin King firing into Bat Masterson’s pelvis via Mollie Brennan’s lower extremities. Had to fight the urge to illustrate this exactly as it sounds (in other words, the R-rated version). It’s possible they were shot while imitating missionaries (ahem).

A little cooler today. Took the dogs to the creek at about seven this morning and got ten rocks for the drive-way. Real aggressive coyotes in the neighborhood. They chased Buddy Boze Hatkiller yesterday for about 100 yards, then they traded and Buddy chased them over Ratcliff Ridge to certain doom. Or, at least that was Kathy’s fear. He came trotting back about twenty minutes later, like nothing had happened, giving us that teenager look, “What? What? Get off my case! They’re not as bad as you think! You’re both so paranoid!”

Here’s a Bisbee contribution on the oxymoron front:

“Forgot to tell you my favorite oxymoron: gratuitous nudity. I think the King of the Drive-Ins, Joe-Bob Briggs, pointed out that this was a stupid phrase that's most often used about movies in which the nudity is essential, because if you remove it, there's no reason to be watching the dang thing at all.”
—Will Shetterly

If you read my recent Custer battlefield tour where I was spouting factoids right and left, you may have wondered how many I actually got right. I did too, so I wrote Michael Donahue and asked him for a grade. Here’s his report card:

“1.) Boston Custer did not stop to water his horse at the morass, he simply passed Benteen who was watering his.

“2.) We do not know how many rounds Custer's men expended (38,000--I do not know were that came from) Crook (with Indian scouts) did shoot up 40, 000 and Custer's men were no better shots. Since warrior accounts state that some belts were almost empty and some were full after killing soldiers there is no way of knowing the shots fired by Custer's men. Some bodies on Calhoun had 40 cartridges by them, and they fired the most (likley.) I think it is quite possible that the men of E company and Custer on the hill may have run out. They said suddenly that their shots quit coming.”
—Michael Donahue

Kathy and I watched the first 35 minutes of “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” last night on DVD (in other words, the opening credits). It’s a long sucker. On the accompanying doc on the making of the film, they do this fun little thing where they give the time on certain scenes: dog walking across the road: 34 seconds. Stuff like that. Really love it. When they tried to restore the missing scenes (Hollywood cut about an hour out of it), some of the dialogue was lost, so the producer brought in Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood to loop in some of their missing lines of dialogue. I’d like to say it works, but an actor in his seventies doing voice over for himself forty years earlier, is a little thin. But, still, Eli is so wonderful it doesn’t matter. What a great roll he had: Tuco (such a bastard, and so damn funny).

Speaking of history:

"It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts."
—Bill Vaughan (thanks to Seth Hoyt for sending this one!)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

July 8, 2004
Coyotes yippin’ across the draw. Closer now (5:51 a.m.). We got a big ol’ forest fire nippin’ at the horizon (Willow fire) and electrical failures galore. Big transformer fire hit an APS (Arizona Public Service) substation in Peoria on Sunday night. Saw it on the way home from Grandma Betty’s. Big billowing black clouds sandwiched between fireworks. Gave the sky a sort of Apocalypse Now effect. Last night, our refrigerator died. We were sitting at the kitchen room table eating and comparing our day when all of a sudden red goo started running down the outside of the frig. Turned out to be melting fruit popsicles.

This morning we woke up and the well pump is dead (runs on electricity). Had to haul buckets of water in from the pool just flush the toilet.

To boot, the last two nights have been miserably hot. The poor airpad cooler just couldn’t keep up, so we switched over to AC in the middle of the night. What did we do before AC?

I was reading about an 1870s era stage station on the route between Prescott and Yuma and in the summer when the stage would come in, the stage hands had to wear masks to ward off the choking dust and they couldn’t touch the harness on the horses because the metal studs were so hot. Everyone in Arizona slept outdoors in the summer and used wet sheets and a hopeful breeze to survive. Easy to believe, hard to imagine

Worked all day yesterday with Gus Walker and finally finished the “Roots of Rodeo” piece. RG proofed it at 4:45, Meghan put in the corrections and Robert Ray drove it down to Dan Harshberger for the Danielization process.

Speaking of which, we got our first complaint on the new cover of the very dead John Wesley Hardin. Almost everyone in the office had a problem with it, except Daniel and I. This is from Will Shetterly of Bisbee:

“For your sake, I pray what I'm about to say will prove how out of touch I am with your market. And, mind you, I thought the autographed death card [of Hardin] was funny. But someone, and I wish I knew who, said something about comic book covers that has stuck with me. In the 1960s, DC did covers of their heroes getting the crap kicked out of them on the theory that you would want to know how they came back to win. Marvel did covers of heroes giving at least as good as they got. And Marvel began outselling DC. The covers weren't all of it, of course, but I think they were a factor. As for your cover of Wes Hardin, well, we know that ol' boy just ain't coming back. I'd be happy if every issue had a Boze ‘guys with guns’ cover painting. I know you've got to vary things so your covers don't all look alike, so I understand why you don't do all the covers. But running black and white pictures of boxed gunmen doesn't do it for me. It's a bit like the sexy young Elvis vs. fat old Elvis. Commercially, Young Elvis kicks Old Elvis's ass. It's true there's fat old Elvis fandom. But not even they want the toilet photo adorning their favorite fan mag. They want Glory Days. So, if this cover doesn't do well, try some Glory Days covers.

“But if I have to start each month's issue with shot up cowboys, I'll still keep reading TW.”
—Will Shetterly

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
—Henry James

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

July 7 2004
Dan Buck sent me an article about how cable tv’s Bravo network is looking for a broad niche. While this is understandable, and we are trying to do much the same thing at True West, isn’t that an oxymoron? A “broad niche”? Like “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence”?

Last Sunday night, all the Radina’s gathered at Betty’s home to discuss shifts for taking care of her while she recuperates from her broken hip. While there I got into a discussion with 10-year-old EJ and the difference between conundrum, oxymoron and non-sequiter. Not only could EJ spell these words correctly but he had a decent idea what they meant. We got grandma’s dictionary out and looked up all three words and while the definitions were helpful they didn’t give very good examples of each.

So, yesterday I went to an expert wordsmith, Dan Buck. Here’s his take on these three similiar, yet distinctive words and their meaning:

“The following was culled from several dictionaries and style books on my desk. Conundrum has two different meanings, the first of which was unknown to me until I looked the word up: (1) a riddle in which a fanciful question is answered by a pun, e.g., what is black and white and red all over? A newspaper. (I always thought that was called a riddle.) (2) The more common meaning, and the only one I knew off-hand: a difficult and complicated problem. Speaking of unknown, the origin of the word ‘conundrum’ is a mystery. One source said it was 16th century, "possibly originating in some long-lost university joke." I was unaware that any university jokes had ever been lost.

“Non sequiter, from the Latin ‘it does not follow’ (hey, a great name for a balky dog), means an inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premise or evidence, in other words, whatever your spouse just said.

“Oxymoron, from the Greek, 'sharp + foolish,' is a rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined. “Jumbo shrimp” is the usual example. 'Military music,’ ‘harmonious discord,’ ‘madly sane,’ ‘interesting Canadian,’ ‘falsely true,’ and ‘deafening silence’ are others. ‘Broad niche’ would be an oxymoron, especially since niche comes from Latin ‘nest.’ A broad nest?

“Paradox, distant kin to oxymoron, from the Latin/Greek ‘conflicting with expectation’ or ‘beyond belief,’ has several meanings: a seeming contradiction that may nonetheless be true; an assertion that is essentially self-contradictory; a statement contrary to received opinion. The first two meanings are, I think, the most common. The third one sounds to me more like ‘unconventional wisdom,’ or in its new garb, ‘a counter-intuitive statement.’ Conundrum and paradox are both forms of riddles. This is great: riddle comes from the Middle English, ‘to give counsel.’ As in, he talks like a Chinese fortune cooky.”
—Dan Buck

If I understand this correctly, “Billy the Kid was an All-American boy and a cold-blooded killer” would be a conundrum? Correct?

And, as a selective perception example, this morning’s Arizona Republic had a column by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, in which she writes, “[Conservative’s] disgust with the ‘60s spurs oxymoronic—and moronic—behavior, as anti-big-government types conjure up audacious social engineering schemes to turn back the clock.” A conundrum if I ever heard one.

Got a new poll up and we need your vote. Does a True West "Best of the West" designation influence your purchasing decisions or your decisions about which Old West sites to visit? Yes/No You can click right here.

“We are pioneering. We don’t know where we will end up yet.”
—Karen Pryor

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

July 6, 2004
Worked hard on several vaquero scratchboards all day today. Finished three. Had numerous meetings and that slowed me down. Tweaked copy on “The Roots of Rodeo” and monkeyed with the rodeo timeline (which is what the scratchboards are for). Knocked off at 5:30. Still not done and I have several more illustrations to do for my Bat Masterson article.

This just in from True West Maniac #244:
“Having read your journal from day one till now I've come to the conclusion you're a mediocre tipper. Free, unsolicited advice, worth every penny: over tip. The waitress will appreciate it. The people you're with will think better of you, and you'll go away happy. A guy with your upbeat attitude and sense of humor should over tip. It was one of my New Year's resolutions, and it's made me feel better than I expected.”
—Curt Rich, TW Maniac #244

The irony is I feel like I overtip already. Ha. And I couldn’t feel much better about myself than I already do, but, as I’ve mentioned in here before, my daughter is a former waitress and she makes me over tip, at least when I’m with her. I believe I religiously tip 20%, but I must admit there is a running joke here at the magazine about “True West math,” which refers to my awful stabs at financial projections or anything with decimals or multiplication. When something is out of whack by about ten miles, someone, usually Mike Melrose, will quip, “Oh, True West math.”

Still, I try to tip 20%, which on a $50 meal is $10. Right?

On a more positive note, there is a quote that has been driving me lately. I think Carole Compton Glenn sent it to me. When I want to goof around, not work, take a nap, lounge, I think of this quote and I snap right to it. Here it is:

“If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
—Sharedale Skeins

Monday, July 05, 2004

July 5, 2004
What did we do before DVDs? Kathy got me the Sergio Leone trilogy, of “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” for Father’s Day. This afternoon we watched the background interviews (disc 2), on the making of the films and is it just me, or have movies from the mid-twentieth century become almost as historic as the events in the Wild West they were attempting to portray? Listening to Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach talk about this crazy International movie they filmed in southern Spain back in the days of primitive film making was every bit as riveting as hearing about the real deal. Eastwood told how he brought his own wardrobe from the States, the holster was the one he was wearing on Rawhide (he was on summer hiatus and decided to go to Spain and do this Italian Western), the black levis he got in Hollywood, ditto for the sheep-skin vest and hat. Sergio provided the pancho, but as Eastwood tells it, they didn’t have any duplicates of anything so he had to take everything back to the hotel every night so they wouldn’t lose it. Wallach told about how the crew and actors spoke a variety of languages, French, German, Italian and Spanish and when he was in a scene (of course they showed it as he is telling it), he related how he would say his lines, and then wait for the other guy to stop talking, in German, and then Eli would say his next lines. Just amazing. Can’t wait to watch the the whole thing.

And of course, we were in Spain last Christmas so I recognized the mountains around Almeria, and noticed many little details I never saw before (there are many terraced fields on the hillsides, some dating back hundreds of years, and now that I know they are there, viola! there they are.

Worked on several scratchboards (scraper board as the English call it) of rodeo images. One is of a vaquero at a Charreada (the precursor of the American rodeo by about oh, two centuries), and they have this event called a coleada, where a charro must grab a bull’s tale at full gallop, twist it around his leg, and flip the mighty beeve over on its back.

Flint Carney just called and told me Handy died yesterday. Flint and Handy often modeled for me. Handy especially on Billy the Kid stuff (he was just perfect as Big Jim French). Cancer. Memorial is next Saturday out at Greasewood Flats. Great guy and he wasn’t that old.

Also worked on writing my graphic novel on the cock-eyed Apache scout. I finally got a device going to add some humor to the story (imagine that?). We’re hoping to premiere it before the end of the year. Got to get going on it. Need to get some pages in the can. Maybe the man who wrote “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice And Men” and “The Pink Pony” has something to say about that?

"When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate."
—John Steinbeck

Sunday, July 04, 2004

July 4, 2004
Kathy spent the night at her mama’s so I had the house to myself last night. Of course she called me this morning and asked if I had walked the dogs and I said, “No, it’s not hot enough yet.”

So, by way of Lutheran guilt and extreme wussiness, I took the damn dogs down to the creek at 9:30 when it was only about 98 out.

Last week when I walked over to the cave I scared up a javelina and a big ol’ screech owl, the latter flying out of his perch in a deep crevice and gliding out over my head. This morning as I approached the former home of the Hohokam (some say Sinaguas), I didn’t see any javelina but as I peered up over a big pile of boulders I heard something flutter behind me. I turned to see the same big, fluffy screech owl, only this time he didn’t fly off, he landed on the ground about ten feet from me. He didn’t look afraid, far from it. At first I wondered if he was faking an injury so I would follow him away from his nest (a typical trick), or was he merely mad from the heat or, and this is the one I came to believe—he was calling me out.

His big eyes blinked as he stared a hole in my forehead. “Come on Punk,” he seemed to say with his eyes. “You want a piece of me? Huh? You lookin’ at me? Well, are you, you ex-Lutheran scum.”

Just then Peaches came running up and I thought, “Oh no! This poor screech owl is exactly the size of a big rooster and Peaches, The Chickenkiller, is going to pounce on this poor, defenseless fowl and kill it in a New York minute.”

As Peaches came close, the screech owl, turned and puffing up, gave out a series of clicking sounds. Peaches made a U-turn on a dime and walked off, “No thanks,” her rear end clearly stated as she disappeared around a clump of prickly pears.

As for myself, I meekly worked my way around the aggressive little booger and fled, like a major wussy. Just don’t tell any of my male friends.

And speaking of male friends:
“Just finished 7-03-04, hurry up with that book, I've been married (to the same woman) for 29 years, as of 6-27-04, but can always use suviablity tips.”
—Larry Thrapp

By popular demand:
Chapter Two. A Caring Father: The Four Most Frightening Words In The English Language

“We need to talk.”

As history clearly illustrates, men do not like to talk. From the Plains of Serengetti to Omaha Beach, men who were “chatty” didn’t last long.

And as the Sociologists posit: while men were out on the hunt they had to be very quiet lest they chase away the game or give away their position to some deadly predator (like screech owls!) or mortal enemies. Often, while in enemy territory, they would go for days without uttering a single word.

Women folk, on the other hand, were busy gathering nuts and berries, and talking from the moment they got up to long past cavetime. This often paid big dividends

“Don’t pick those Cane-ella, they’re poisonous. They’ll kill your husband in a New York minute.”

“What’s a New York minute?”

“I have no idea.”

“Well, let’s talk about it until the cows come home.”

“What’s a cow?”

“I have no idea.”

Repeat for 158,000 years.

Men, on the other hand, are bred to shut up, often, and for long periods of time. By now, it’s on the genetic code. Talkers=losers and dead guys.

Of course it’s not true that men never talk. That’s gross hyperbole. But, as my good friend Rich Schneider puts it, “Men only talk if it’s absolutely necessary. You might hear a man say, ‘Hey Darrell, your cap is on fire.” But that’s about it.”

Five Things Men Would Rather Do Than Talk
1. Take a proctologist exam with a rusty car mirror
2. Juggle live hand grenades in a speeding Humvee
3. Twirl Mohave rattlers over their head by the tails
4. Go to a French film festival with subtitles
5. Filet living crocs

So what should Men do when a woman says the dreaded four words?

To be quite honest, there is no known answer to this. It’s a conundrum from Hell. Simply put, you cannot win this game. Remember this, when a woman says “We need to talk,” you are in for a long listen. About the only proven strategy known to man is you can sometimes stall. Here are several proven semi-stallers:

• “Gee Honey, isn’t it time I cleaned the toilets and did all the laundry?”
• “I can’t talk right now, I’m meditating to enhance our relationship.”
• “I’d rather you read to me from one of those Deepak Chopra books.”

Stuff like that. I know it’s weak. Maybe if we men talked more about it we could come up with something better, but it’s all we’ve got at the moment. Just remember, there is no real escape from this other than divorce or death.

I promise other chapters will be more uplifting.

”If I ache, it's because we are apart and yet that can't be because you are inside and a part of me, so we really aren't apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn't be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can't be because I love you.”
—Ronald Reagan

Saturday, July 03, 2004

July 3, 2004
Our son Thomas is wrapping up his year in Spain and will be coming home in two weeks. After much prodding from his mother he finally told us about his girlfriend. Here’s this morning’s e-mail from Valencia:

“Her name is Cristina and I met her at the beach several months ago. Rich my friend from Rutgers and I were hanging out and I kept getting looks from this girl. She was about to leave and I finally got my nerves up to go talk to her. We talked for about 20 minutes. When it came time to go my terrible instincts were telling me that she wasn’t all that interested so I tried to set it up so I wouldn´t have to ask for her number. I told her I go to Nikana on wednesday nights and she said she´d never heard of it. So I said goodbye and that was that. Ten minutes later while I was talking to Rich about how you win some and lose some I hear someone calling my name. I turn around and Cristinas jogging back from the boardwalk. I go to meet her and she says, "I normally don’t do this, but can I get your number." That´s how bad my instincts are being a guy. She later told me how annoyed she was when we first met that I didn´t ask for her number. Her 18th birthday was on wednesday but she looks like she´s 22. I guess you can tell from the picture that she´s fairly tall. Model material I tell her but you be the judge. She studies biology and does very well in school. Shes a big fan of animals seeing as how she has a fish tank, a hamster, caterpillars and a cat. But, more importantly she likes The Strokes and in general has damn good taste in rock. She lives in Alboraya, which if you´ll recall is the town right outside of Valencia that is just inland from Posaplaya where we stayed. Her house is really sweet. It´s three stories with all kinds of patios and stuff. That´s really it. We hang out at the beach a lot and play paddle ball, see the occasional movie or go out on the town. Her English is really good. She lived in London for several months. She speaks pretty good German from doing an exchange there and is going to live in Edinburgh, Scotland for the summer. Valenciano is her first language so she speaks it fluently as well as Spanish.”
—Tomcat

And here’s my e-mail back to him:
Tomas,
Thanks for the long awaited information on your girlfriend. As for your terrible instincts with reading women, you are not alone. I can't begin to tell you how many signals I have missed throughout my checkered career. In fact, I missed it with your mom! I had left a party in honor of Bill Compton and someone else had to tell me "Hey I think Kathy Radina was digging on you." I was incredulous: "Are you kidding?! Turn this car around." You know the rest. We got married and went to the state prison for a sperm donor sample and then you were born.

As you know, I've long been thinking about writing a book called "A Caring Father Talks to His Son About Pussy." Of course, your mother hates this title, but, politically incorrect words or not, I have some truths to tell that can help mankind, and I do mean mankind.

Here's a chapter I'm considering for the book: "How to Pretend to Be Interested In Everything She Says." In this chapter I would quote Marlon Brando, who just died by the way, from the movie A Streetcar Named Desire: "I never met a dame yet who didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told." Despite the corny "dame" reference, that is a timeless bit of wisdom.

In fact, this is the reverse of what you were experiencing on the beach. We're all so insecure, male and female, but it's even more so with beautiful women. The prettier they are the more insecure they seem to be.

The trick is to be enthusiastic about them. So many males constantly try to impress these godesses with me, me, me. I did this. I did that. I think this, I believe that. My favorite movies, my favorite sports. Look at my new socks. Then I did this, then my friends and I did that. Blah, Blah, Blah. Why? Because, deep down, no matter how insecure they are, we are even more insecure.

Roman Polanski is a little Polish twit who has bedded some of the most beautiful women in the world. How did he do it? Well, he once told the story of riding in the back of a limo driviing down a European street and he saw this beautiful, long-legged hottie walking along, so he rolled down the window and just started yelling at her, telling her how beautiful she was. He eventually talked her into the limo (I think she was with her sister or friends, and the limo is of course a huge advantage over most guys), but he later confessed, "I just worshipped her and told her constantly how great she was." That is the difference and the secret. He didn't go on and on about himself, which is the tempting thing to do around beautiful women.

Of course he got Sharon Tate pregnant and she was later killed by Charlie Manson goons, and Roman skipped out of the U.S. after being indicted for having sex with a minor, but those are other stories and lessons to be learned.

Worship that girl. Be enthusiastic about her and the things she loves. When in doubt, talk about her. Good luck son.

Coming next: The Four Most Feared Words In The English Language (we-need-to-talk).

Dad

”He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”
—John Milton

Friday, July 02, 2004

July 2, 2004
On some mornings Kathy takes the dogs for a walk and then I join them after I’ve turned on the computer, retrieved the paper and had another cup of coffee. Here is a photo of that moment when the dogs realize it’s me up on the hill coming towards them and not some massive predator with a bazooka. That’s Chickenkiller Peaches in the foreground, and Buddy Boze Hatkiller in the middle distance. And that’s my new girlfriend with the Custer tattoo coming up the hill.

No, wait! Different tattoo (A full scale nude of Sigmund Freud on the left forearm). Sorry, it must be Kathy.

It was “Minnesota” Mike Melrose who suggested I take this photo and post it because, as he so subtly puts it, “I don’t think the readers of your blog have a clue what it looks like out by your house.” Which is a nice way of saying, “What a God forsaken desert you live in!” or to potential stalkers, “Hey, I know where that street is, let’s go camp out there with a high-powered rifle!”

Is it just me or does Saddam Hussein look like Gabby Hayes? I’m thinking of doing a comic book on him. Here’s a rough of the cover. What do you think?

Yesterday morning I got some daunting stats from Dan Buck who culled these out of the Philly Inquirer: “There are now 6,400 magazine titles in the U.S. and 400 new magazines were launched in 2004, so far. Feel crowded?”

Yes, indeedy. When Joe Small started this mag back in 1953 there were only about 500 titles—for the entire country!.Two years ago there were “only” 5,500 titles and everyone agreed that was way too many. Post 9•11, the conventional wisdom was that many of the weaker titles would drop by the wayside, and we’d get down to a more realistic number (say 2,500) but the opposite has happened.

What does this mean? Misery loves company. Or, God must love fools because he made so many of us.

“He who has heard the same thing told by 12,000 eye-witnesses has only 12,000 probabilities, which are equal to one strong probability, which is far from certain.”
—Voltaire

Thursday, July 01, 2004

July 1, 2004
This just in from Finland. According to Jari Teilas, “Mitch Boyer and his Crow scouts could smell the huge horse herd from quite a distance.” (see June 29 entry for reference to the Indian horse herd at Little Bighorn)

Well, I couldn’t smell him, but I spotted my first True West Maniac in the wild last Saturday. Sue Lambert and I were set up in the Wynona Thompson Auditorium for the annual Brian Label Cody Auction and Trade Show and I recognized the Maniac logo on a white t-shirt at about 50 yards. I was seated behind our table and as I looked through a gap in the leather goods at the table catty corner to us I saw a flash of white shirt and the unmistakable, black silhouette of Curly Bill leaning back and laughing (hey, I drew it so I have the eye for it).

When he got to the next aisle over I ran out and accosted him. Turns out Jason Thorp is TW Maniac #94 and not only was he wearing the official t-shirt, he flashed his Maniac card.

Here’s his description of our encounter: “I’m glad I was your first True West Maniac you’ve met. That really made my 2,800 mile round trip worth it. We zig-zagged all across the country from Boring, Oregon (yes, that’s the name of my town) through Idaho, Montana and finally Cody, Wyoming. We hit every back road, gravel road, hilly road, twisty road and unknown road I could find. All in search of the last of the disappearing ghost towns.”

Yep, he’s a bonified Maniac (he drove 2,800 miles mostly on dirt roads for a trade show?!) and I predict Jason is going to love the new issue of True West because we detail 15 of the best in the West with a Gus Walker map and everything.

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go."
—T.S. Elliot