Wednesday, August 31, 2005

August 31, 2005
I’m feeling negative and cynical. Not my usual demeanor, but here I sit, grumpy and bitchy. I’ve got competing newsstand consultants fighting over a contentious, shrinking national pie. They’re not happy and I’m not happy. I had a temporary negative cash flow in my personal biz account, which garnered me $90 in overdraft charges. Damn! Sometimes I hate being saddled with an artist’s temperament (read that NO MATH SKILLS!).

I’ve got shooting pains in my right elbow. Christie Wilcox thinks it’s stress and keyboard trauma (too much keyboard time). So I’ve been trying to limit my computer time, but here I sit at three in the afternoon. Been on since nine.

Enough Whine Time. Mark Boardman is going down to Tombstone this weekend to cover the historical renovation seminar the town and state are sponsoring. It’s very nice to have an extra hand in editorial.

Went home for lunch yesterday and bailed into a big, Mexican storm painting. Had great reference of muy malo cloud build-ups north of Elephant Butte several years back. Verdict still out but I love painting problems because, as opposed to life, they seem tangental, and solvable. So many business and personal problems seem insurmountable.

Fortunately I’m married to a therapist and get to grind on most of this stuff for free.

I had a great talk with Bob Brink last night about staying focussed on real management issues and not getting too sidetracked by superficial whining from some of my chronically disgruntled employees (besides me, of course!).

"You shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."
—Old Miner Leaguers Saying

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

August 30, 2005
Tomcat wants to rent an apartment in New York City with some other guys. He called yesterday and said we need to back him up, basically co-sign, on the following: 80 months worth of rent, or $320,000 worth of credit (I’m not making this up), in order to get on the list to look for an apartment! This is just a pre-qualifier. Rents for a four bed-room apartment (split between six guys) is going to run about $5,000 a month. Meanwhile I read in today’s Republic that the famous rock club CBGB’s is delinquent on their rent which is $19,000 a month. That’s a lot of $7 beers.

Started a new painting last night of a Mexican village nestled in twilight, with a big storm coming in over the mountain. On the left, a lone rider, wearing a tattered U.S. flag as a makeshift poncho leans into a strong headwind, as his white-socked pony picks his way down into the valley.

Is it Shane? No, it’s Mickey Free, silly. Same idea, different valley. Prediction: in the new Westerns, the protagonist will be riding north, out of Mexico (The Man With No Name rode south into Old Mexico). Call them Mexican Westerns, but the hero will be coming from another direction and he will speak fluent Spanish. Count on it.

Got a new poll up: Which actor do you think looked most like Doc? Caesar Romero, Dennis Quaid, Jason Robards, Stacy Keach, or Val Kilmer?

”The method of the enterprising is to plan with audacity and execute with vigor.”
—Christian Bovee

Monday, August 29, 2005

August 29, 2005
Mark Boardman is staying at our house for two weeks, working on a special assignment. Today Bob Brink and I took him to Tonto Bar & Grill for lunch and talked to him at length (I had half a cobb, Mark a chicken caesar and Bob Brink shocked everyone by ordering a hamburger, $34 biz account).

I started on my next book project last weekend and feel quite confident about the artwork and story. Also, I’ve been getting great feedback on the CGII poster designs (see August 26, below):

“Mr Bell—Red Poster.”
—Hugh Howard

“I like both of them, but if I had to pick only one I would pick the one on the right (Dan’s design). Have a good day and glad nothing was stolen during the breakin.”
—Scott Bell

“I prefer the brown, busier cover. The red cover catches the eye, but there's not enough to hold it there. The busier cover is more interesting visually.”
—Tom Carpenter

“The busier version is just that, too busy. It distracts from the main action of the largest illustration. The other follows the classic ‘C’ layout so the eye is not initially confused while sending the required signal to the brain.”

“I like the not so busier poster best—it's a good one.”
—Bob Reece

“Go with the Red one, but the ‘Blaze Away’ needs to Be HUGE, tucked behind
Wyatt from his shoulder on in a more chewed up, distressed block style font.
I'd kill all the additional pictures along the bottom too, unless you
desaturate them to a nice silvery look and frame them inside the border
under the bottom text with a mask over them that makes them look like
screwed up old photos.”

“The red cover is the best.”
—Paul Hutton

“The red one.”
—Emma Bull

“Hard to tell about the posters at the size they are on the blog. I lean to the minimalist one, but would like to see them poster size to see if the other is too busy when enlarged.”
—Charlie Waters

”Art should simplify. That is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.”
—Willa Cather

Sunday, August 28, 2005

August 28, 2005
Still cleaning up studio and filing art reference. It took me six days to clear off the table with all of my CGII materials. Finished yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, Kathy and I met Deena down at Harkins 101 and saw the five o’clock showing of The 40 Year-Old Virgin ($24 cash for tickets). Really loved it. Laughed ‘til I cried. Made me very happy. Afterwards we walked over to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Place slammed, half hour wait. Decided to sit at the bar and eat. I had the Steakhouse salad and a large draft beer (Foster’s). Girls split a chicken breast salad ($36.06 plus $7 tip, cash). Talked at length about selling our house and moving into a condo. This is Kathy’s dream. I am conflicted. Where will I put all of my stuff?! Ha.

Tomcat is in New York City. He called us Tuesday morning walking up Madison Avenue looking for a job. In the background we could hear the incessant honking of horns and the usual cacophony of NY ambiant noises. This morning I got this update via Email. I had to edit parts of it because he’s too blunt for his own good (Gee, I wonder where he got that?):

“So when Frank [a male model] took me out for the first time in Manhattan it was quite the experience. We get to this club called Soho appopriately located in Soho around 11 and getting in was like right out of a movie. There's a line of about 10 people at the front of which a girl and her friends are arguing with the doorman to let them in. Sounds cliche but as we walked pass the girl to the front of the line the girl actually said, ‘ahhhh, he won't let us in!’ Frank walked right up to doorman and said, ‘Do you know [Dad edit]?’ and the guy lifted the rope and gave us a ticket which got us a second stamp allowing us to go upstairs. It turns out [Dad edit] runs a PR firm and gets paid to show up at these places with friends and girls. He gets a free table with a bottle of Vodka and mixes which normally cost around $100. He’s probably [Dad edit]. Frank of course has a Russian model friend he's hooking up with meet him there and she brings a friend who I have to wingman. Talk about throwing me to the wolves my first night out. The [Dad edit] was a petite, blonde, Latvian born bombshell who is studying Pharmaceuitical Rep and who's mom is a psychiatrist and dad’s a Latvian business tycoon. She was actually pretty nice considering but I was a bit nervous none the less. Anyway, there's a group of [Dad edit] friends that are always together and so we hung out with them all night. All very nice people. One of the girls is a West African born model who danced unlike anyone I have ever seen. Last night I met her cousins who are also models, one of which has the same birthday as me; year and everything. Really cool girls. Their dad is a governor in some West African country. Manhattan’s playground is below 30th St. and above Canal. Basically in between Midtown and the Financial District.”

Mark Boardman is flying in today. Going to meet him this afternoon at El Encanto about two.

I’ve also been culling out my old “Emptying My Mind” computer file where I keep all my used quotes from this blog. Here’s one I resaved. It applies bigtime to today and especially tomorrow:

”Fortune favors the audacious.”

Friday, August 26, 2005

August 26, 2005 Bonus Blog
Take a gander at the two posters for the CGII artshow on September 30 (they're posted below in previous blog). Dan Harshberger designed the busier version utilizing aspects of the Armstrong-Prior printing sessions and the other one was designed in house by Gus and I. Personally, I like them both and am curious which one you like. You can click on contact me (top of this page) if you’d like to cast your vote.

“Want to think of something new? Go to a museum.”
—Harvey Mackay
August 26, 2005
Last night I got home from work about 5:30, swam ten passes and cleaned off an art desk in the studio. Just as Kathy got home at about seven the phone rang. It was our security service and they said a “motion detector” had been set off at the office and did I want to send someone out to investigate. I said, thankyou but I’d go up and check on the office (thereby saving an $85 service charge). And besides, Trish Brink set off the alarm last week when she came in early to prep Robert Ray’s area for his birthday party, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

I took my time, tried to talk Kathy into going to Dairy Queen after resetting the alarm system but she was tired and demurred. I got to the office at about 7:40 and everything looked calm and peachy keen. The parking lot was empty and the motion detector lights came on as I climbed the porch steps and unlocked the door. I turned on the lights and disarmed the alarm. Everything looked normal. Rather than walk through production to my office, for some reason I walked through sales and as I did I felt a creepy feeling overtake me as I looked under desks and in darkened offices. Joel’s space was fine, Trish’s office, Carole’s, Meghan’s, mine, everything was perfectly fine. As I slowly came around to the conference room, I saw several glass shards on the floor and as I peaked into the room I saw streaks of blood and a huge hole in the back plate glass window, with big chunks of glass everywhere. Drops of blood trailed right under my feet!

I wheeled around and ran for the door, pulling out my cellphone, frantically dialing 9-1-1 as fast as my little fingers could go. As I cleared the porch and ran into the parking lot I saw a plume of smoke rise across the street, like a mini Hiroshima mushroom cloud, with instant orange flames sprouting up behind the tall mesquite and palo verde trees.

The 9-1-1 operator asked me the problem and I told her we had a break-in with blood and that a fire had been set across the street and she told me to calm down, that someone had already reported the fire and to just give her the details on our situation.

Two sheriff’s vehicles came about ten minutes later (I kept thinking, “What if I was wrestling some crackhead this whole time? That wouldn’t be fun!”).

The officers trailed the blood across the street to a travel trailer that had been broken into and surmised the perp(s) stumbled over there after entering our offices, stole clean clothes, then perhaps started the fire as a diversion, so they could escape.

Kathy called Dave Daiss in Sonoita and he called me on my cell and we called a variety of security firms and none of them could help us. Finally, Dave got Marc’s Glass a 24-Hour Emergency Replacement Service and the service technician came right out, cleaned up the glass and blood, made a plywood replacement and got it installed.

Went through the offices at least six times looking for missing computers, money or even books, but nothing seemed to be missing. Got home at 12:30 in the morning. Just another exciting day in the Wild West town of Cave Creek, Arizona.

”Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is a little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, August 25, 2005

August 25, 2005
Robert Ray is off for Boston and a much needed vacation. Unfortunately Bea, his wife can't join him because of a special project at Dilliard's.

Gus Walker, the Mapinator, is moving to Alabama in January. We'll miss his presence in the office but he'll hopefully still do maps for us.

I went back through my daytimer to skim off the glancing tidbits regarding the making of the book Classic Gunfights, Volume II. The project started a year ago and was supposed to deadline in May (that's a joke). Here are the entries that tell the story:

November 4, 2005
Working hard on The West’s Deadliest Address: Fifth and Allen Street, Tombstone, A.T. Five killings, multiple altercations with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Curly Bill, Ike Clanton, Johnny Ringo, Luke Short and Bat Masterson, all within spitting distance of this amazing intersection.

The Gunfights and events for the OK Corral book, which needs a better title, someething all encompassing: The OK Corral Conflict/ Before & After. Maybe start with Rustler’s Park and end there with death of Rngo near Rustler’s Park.

November 16, 2004
Got a packet from Neil Carmony today containing an in depth report by Steve Gatto on the killing of Phillip Schneider at Charleston, Arizona Territory on January 14, 1881. Very different from the “accepted version,” or the version in most of the books. More on this later.

Shot photos of my Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce painting and ran it up to Foothills Photo. Went by the bank and made a deposit, cashed a royalty check ($111.20).

November 22, 2004
Forty one years ago? Is that possible? JFK visits Dallas. If the study of history has taught me anything it’s that the big myth, yes, even bigger than anything we’ve seen so far, will really kick in at the fifty mark. That’s when the survivors get down to a couple dozen and the stories get bigger and the writers get younger and the theories get weirder and strangely, more believable. At least that’s how the Old West characters I love ascended into immortality. It was in the late forties, that would be the 1940s, and early fifties that the fantasies hit full stride and the few oldtimers left, Al Jennings (who shot and killed a neighbor by accident trying to show him a real fast draw) and Brushy Bill (Yes, I’m in the James Gang, no wait, I’m Billy the Kid!) captured the center stage. Every time they retold the stories they’d get closer to the center of the stage.

Finally finished the Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce copy. It’s going to be a great little epic. So much of this story has been mis-reported for so long (see JFK paragraph). Ha.

November 24, 2004
Yesterday I made the commitment of finishing the writing of my book by December 3rd (a week from this Friday) by giving up a crisp $100 bill. As promised, the results have been immediate. For example, this morning I woke up at five, brimming with ideas and tasks I wanted to accomplish on the book. I went out to the studio at six and started a fire in the stove, and did five sketches of potential scenes I want to include in the book, took the dogs for a walk down to the creek. It was quite foggy and Southern California looking out as the big storm that hit us three days ago lingers over the high Sonoran Desert.

December 8, 2004
Gus and I went over the CGII book schematic this morning. Juggling, moving things around. Meghan is tweaking copy for Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce. Hard to do. Many conflicting accounts.

December 14, 2004
Wrestling with a small scratchboard of Wyatt Earp as a possible spot illustration for the top of the March cover. If you were my wife you might ask the question, “Jesus, Bob, you have been drawing this guy ever since we got married and you still can’t get him right? What is your problem?” And, if you were my wife, you’d be right.

February 1, 2005
Gus and I are whittling away at CGII and it is looking mighty fine. Of course we are over our deadline, as of today, and we are at least a couple of weeks, at least, away from handing off to Meghan and production, but at this point it will be what it will be.

Brian Lebel and his partner Bill came to the office at four to talk about doing a special show for the release of the book. They followed me out to the house to look at the piles and piles of original art going into CGII (I think I’ll end up with close to 150 pieces of art). They told me they liked what they saw and that we will decide on a date for the rollout show, probably in late August or early September.

February 21, 2005
While I was home, I whipped out a good gouache of Stilwell getting both barrels at night, standing on the tracks of the Tucson railyard. Pretty good effects. May redo it. Didn’t finish. Came back to work at two.

February 25, 2005
Hanging out on Classic Gunfights. Everything else in editorial is done except me. I’m planning on a successful weekend of painting. Looking forward to it.

March 1, 2005
We made a goal this morning to finish the Classic Gunfights book by May first.

March 7, 2005
Whipped out another night train study, this one of Papago Station at midnite where Wyatt Earp and his gang flagged down a freight train. I finally get to draw a saguaro! Amazing.

March 11, 2005
I’m still wrestling with the Papago Station painting. What started out as a small impressionistic scene, has ballooned into a major epic panorama complete with telegraph poles, baggage on the landing, the gas lights of Tucson in the distance, the Catalinas (with the distinctive needle in the middle distance) and the station manager “flagging” down the freight train which is just picking up steam. Not to mention Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Texas Jack and Sherm McMasters, bristling with shotguns and rifles as they secure the perimeter. I’ve done ten studies so far! Ridiculous. Welcome to my world, the world of CADD (Complete Attention Deficit Disorder).

March 14, 2005
Finished a cool little scratchboard this afternoon titled “Blaze Away.” It’s of a gunfighter (imagine that!) ripping off a shot. Nice smoke effects which I stole from a Shoot magazine layout, showing modern shooters at a SASS event (Single Action Shooters).

I’m riding herd on two developments: The Papago Station dilemma and the See-More-Buns Scandal. First for the reaction to the Tush Trauma:

“Well, only confident heterosexual men could pose together like that (without anxiety or giggles), so ya got that going for ya.”
—Jim Ed-Chicago

March 22, 2005
Finished a nice little study of Wyatt Earp flagging down the freight train at Papago Station. As is often the case in doing a study, I don’t care about getting it perfect so it is often looser and when you get loose, sometimes the magic happens. You can just make out the gas lights of Tucson in the far, left distance. Notice also that Earp has a pistol stuck in the back of his pants.

March 23, 2005
After lunch I whipped out an aerial view of Fifth and Allen in Tombstone. Brought it back to the office and Gus scanned it and I placed it in the layout. Not sure I like it. I always have an image in my head that is so hard to duplicate. I can just see it! But often I don’t have the talent to get it out of there.

March 25, 2005
Trying to finish three paintings for the Virgil Earp shooting today. Need to go home and wrap them up. Gus is making a cool little map of where the shooters hid their horses and where they shot from.

March 28, 2005
I woke up painting. On a roll. Feel confident in my abilities (this is quite rare, I’m either high on something, or delusional). Painted a nice moonlight halo effect. Witnessed it last Friday night when I walked down the road to get Buddy, who had run off to our neighbors and I had to bring him home. I was walking down the road noticing the creepy shadows and how light it was, when I looked up in the sky I saw this radiant moon burst, with the big, wide halo effect. Really stunning. That inspiration carried over into the Papago Station painting. Funny where we get inspiration, isn’t it? “Well, I was going to get my dog. Kind of pissed about it, then looked up, and that’s when I broke my leg. Never been the same way since.”

March 29, 2005
Woke up at midnite and couldn’t go back to sleep. Dogs barking at intruders, probably roving javelinas. Finally got up about 1:30 and went out and studied the moon, trying to figure out how to paint that halo effect. Is it blues, or is it a yellow sheen against a purple hue? Hard to say, could go either way. Turned on the coffee and painted on the Papago Station for about two hours.

March 31, 2005
Last night, right at sunset, I pencilled in twin saguaros for the Papago Station painting (in fact, pencilled it in right on the painting). The giant flowers (saguaros are technically flowers, go figure) are just off my property line to the south of us and they are quite stately and unique. One arm juts out at an odd angle, repeating the same angle as Wyatt Earp’s arm as he flags down the freight train. I know, I know, I’m spending way too much time on this transition scene, but I can’t help it.

April 3, 2005
From there I got inspired to do an overview of a train chugging across the desert towards Tucson. The sun is setting over the Tucson Mountains and the Old Pueblo is lit up by the brand new gas lights. The train is below us about two hundred feet down. Did two versions, good steam floating up towards us in the first one, better sunset in the second. Worked all morning and into the afternoon on that. The gas lighting in the distance is not what I’d hoped for, doesn’t glow right.

April 8, 2005
Got ink all over my palms. The curse of a left-handed draftsman. Been to the bathroom twice to clean up. Finished a scratchboard of Wyatt Earp blazing away outside Fly’s. Good smoke effect. Sweet mustaches, the trick being to go lighter than expected and don’t be afraid to cover the lower lip. I cribbed the pose from a two-part book series on Spaghetti Westerns. Lots of great imagery I had never seen before.

April 10, 2005
Worked almost all day on the Tucson overview painting. Did manage to finish a small portrait of the black and blue, plaid shirt guy in the Crystal Palace. Overworked it. Speaking of which, I often bring unfinished paintings into the bedroom and then as I wake up, I sit in bed and study them, deciding what works and what doesn’t. Kathy looked at the Tucson overview and said, “That’s very nice. Are you going to quit while you are ahead?”

And I said, “No, I’m going to keep going until I ruin it.”

April 19, 2005
I believe that every so often it’s necessary to take a good hard look at our efforts. It’s been 35 years since I made a vow to make a career in media. What have I learned?

• I know that at least half my “brilliant” ideas suck.

• I know that Wyatt Earp by himself is more commercial than Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, gunfighters or Classic Gunfights put together.

• I know that when I start to do anything, walk to pick up a book, for example, that my mind sees something else (that needs to be done) and I think about doing that instead, and as I reach to pick it up, I see something else, and something else and this goes on all day long.

• I know that I have trouble getting started on things, and I also have the twin problem of not knowing when to stop, or not wanting to stop, which is even worse.

April 21, 2005
I spent the morning reworking copy in the Curly Bill Brocius—Jim Wallace shooting at Galeyville. I needed to incorporate Billy Breakenridge’s account with the narrative and it took some massaging but I think I go it.

Gus is working on a “Lincoln County SOB” map and it helps explain why all those rustlers and outlaws ended up in Southeastern Arizona.

April 22, 2005
Robert Ray just stuck his head in my office (3:36 p.m.) and said, “We need to complete 16 pages a week to get this book to the printer on time.” This is the kind of specific goals I need to stay focused. Thankyou Robert.

May 2, 2005
Got into the office at about 8:30. Called Brian Label about our CGII postcard campaign. He’s in LA and we need to get him 500 cards in the next two weeks. Got Gus designing the first of 25 cards. Going to do one for every gunfight. Very ambitious, but that’s what keeps us off the streets.

May 12, 2005
Worked on copy for the 25th CGII gunfight, Bob “Dutch” Martin in a fight I call the Good Rustlers vs. the Bad Rustlers. You’ll need a scorecard for this one. Quite amazing and I wasn’t even aware of this fight at Stein’s Pass, New Mexico (my great grandfather, Henry Guess, is buried there and my great uncle John Guess, had a ranch just north of there, so that location has family ties). Steve Gatto gave me the goods. Gus and I reshuffled the schematic for CGII to add this fight and in the process I lost four pages of wrap-up, but it’s time to cut my losses and finish. Quit jackin’ around.

June 7, 2005
By the way, I started the showdown painting of Doc Holliday facing off with Johnny Ringo on Allen Street and as the painting developed I started to make mud. Not painting mud, which I’m very good at, but rain mud, as in a muddy street. For some reason this just seemed right. Then I worried that this weather wouldn’t be accurate to the actual event and I wondered if it was cold. Well, it was January (1882), but I couldn’t help it and kept painting mud. This morning, I looked up Parsons’ diary entry for that day, and here it is:

January 17, 1882
Snow yesterday. Light fall. Much blood in the air this afternoon. Ringo and Doc Holliday came nearly having it with pistols and Ben Maynard and Rickabaugh later tried to kick each other’s lungs out. Bad time expected with the cowboy leader [Ringo] and [Doc Holliday]. I passed both not knowing blood was up. One with hand in breast pocket and the other probably ready. Earps just beyond. Crowded street and looked like another battle. Police vigilant for once and both disarmed.

June 8, 2005
Worked more on the John Ringo Classic Gunfight with himself. It’s quite amazing to me that someone who was a stumbling drunk and whose life was a complete failure could end up to be a celebrated Western icon. I guess, in some perverse way, it helps explain Glenn Ford.

June 10, 2005
Finished the Johnny Ringo vs. Himself gunfight artwork today. Whipped out two sepia-toned illustrations of the King of the Cowboys, one in death and the other just prior. Shot everything and ran it up to Foothills Photo at 9:30. Reworked copy to deal with the so-called “mysteries” surrounding Johnny Ringo’s death. Steve Gatto’s new book Johnny Ringo (2002) has the best take on everything and I gave him credit. Gus is laying out everything, Meghan is editing it even as I type this up (3:27 PM). Need to wrap up everything.

June 15, 2005
Today is a wake-up call. The CGII book is supposed to go to the printer in a month. We’ve got 30 days to finish and we are hanging out all over the place. Had a meeting yesterday with Meghan, Robert Ray and Gus to plan an attack, cut our losses and get it done.

June 16, 2005
Really got into deadline mode today. Wrestled five spreads to the ground, writing cutlines and sidebars on the fly, and passed them off to Gus, who put them in place, tweaked them and got them over to Robert Ray for final design and output. Really cranking.

Went home for lunch and finished three pieces of art, including a portrait of Bob Paul, Bob “Dutch” Martin, and The Gambler (based on an alleged photo of Wyatt Earp in front of the Tombstone Fire Station). I brought those, plus a couple portraits I had previously finished of Louisa Earp, Morgan Earp, Doc Holliday and Frank Stilwell into the office and Robert Ray and Abby shot digital photos of them in our new photo studio which they have set up in the old store area (As of last week we closed the store. We just weren’t getting the traffic).

June 17, 2005
Anxious to paint an opium overdose (happened in front of the O.K. Corral in 1880), the Nekkid Fandango (still haven’t finished it), Turkey Creek Johnson, Texas Jack Vermillion and a Redington Pass overview (done from the flying photo reference images I took two weeks ago).

July 1, 2005
Robert Ray, Gus Walker and I went through the CGII book layouts yesterday and marked all the holes. There are about 10 big ones, with about 21 art holes that I’d like to fill. Some will get filled up with other things (photos, cutlines and maps) and I will lose the window of opportunity to create more images. However, the art, photographs and layout is possibly the best book we’ve ever done. Bob McCubbin was in town yesterday and he got to take a gander at several spreads, especially the Fly photos spread and he pronounced it as good.

July 6, 2005
Went home for lunch and finished two paintings of Tombstone burning. Swam ten passes. Kicked Peaches in the head on a kick return, and came back in the office.

Finished the Comanche Jack Stilwell copy, cribbing royally from Roy B. Young’s excellent piece in the WOLA Newsletter from Summer 2004. Gus and I attacked more pages on the CGII book. By my count we have 98 pages in the can with 30 to go. Finished the South Pass fight, and half the Spicer Hearing. Working hard on the Morgan Earp murder and George Hearst and lesbians in Tombstone. Also need to finish an opium death in front of the OK Corral.

July 15, 2005
Finally knocked out a decent illustration of Morgan Earp lining up his last pool shot on this planet. Had excellent photo reference of Jeff Morey and Jerry Weddle playing pool at the Laramie Motel office in Tombstone. That was in May of 1993, and I just got around to utilizing it. Ha.

July 18, 2005
Finished the OK Corral opium scene this morning. Excellent effects on curling smoke and the dusty street scene where the body was found. Unfortunately, I spent way too long on it and now I’m behind bigtime. Also need to finish the writing, which is hanging out also.

July 19, 2005
Came back to the office at 4:30. Meghan is working hard on the editing of CGII. Lots of questions and corrections. Robert Ray warned me I need to get my part of the book done as quickly as possible so he can have a week to scale images, etc. My deadline is a week from tomorrow. Basically a week to finish 12 images and plug seven copy holes. My art wish list includes:

July 20, 2005
I woke up at two in the morning mulling my bad painting. Finally got up at 2:30 and went out to the studio and painted for about two hours. Sort of saved the Milt Joyce confrontation, although it’s not what I originally wanted. Also worked on the Doc vs. Ringo painting. Got some decent passages going on that ambitious sucker.

Went back to bed at about five. Got up at six. Took the dogs for a bike ride. Swam 10 laps. Finished the Papago Station painting.

July 22, 2005
Came into the office at seven. Had a very successful day. Gus, Robert Ray, Meghan and I wailed on CGII pages, hammering away at the loose ends and irritating holes and transitions. I rewrote two of the gunfights (Zwing Hunt and Billy Breakenridge; and the final Aftermath). Gus finished his Earp Exodus map and we put that in place. I finished two posse pictures last night and we put those into their allotted slots. Very nice.

We are printing out three page proof editions for our editors to look at this weekend.

July 26, 2005
Spent all yesterday afternoon painting Tombstone snakes. Heavily influenced by Sergio Leone, with Indian Charley in extreme close-up and the other snakes in the alley slithering into position behind Hatch’s Pool Hall. Excellent nighttime effects. Can’t believe I did it. Unfortunately, I’m still hanging out on Dodge City Gang (about 85% done) and Doc Vs. Ringo (about 55% done). Worked until about nine last night. Fried, but a good fried.

Finishing a book is like moving. You make about six trips and you think, “Man, we’re almost done. We only have the closets left.” And then you load out, and you load out and it’s like things in the closet are reproducing (I think this is a funny column theme from Dave Barry). The book won’t die. We keep going thru and fixing stuff and it keeps adding stuff that’s not done. Happens every time.

July 27, 2005
Yesterday, I had Tomcat pose for me as a stage robber. It was hot so I let him put on a frock coat, gunbelt, hat, aiming a Winchester down a hill. Crisitna was greatly amused as we went out on the edge of our land and I sketched him aiming at a non-existent stagecoach. Of course, he had on shorts and flip flops, so he looked a tad goofy (I’ll paint in the boots and pants. I was interested in the folds in the jacket and how the rifle would look against his shoulder). Got some good sketches and transferred them to a big painting. And speaking of which. . .

Whenever I get stuck on a passage (that anatomical pose is not right. Must grab my ‘73 Winchester and put it together with a free model), I sometimes will do little studies for future work, utilizing scrap, or leftover watercolor paper. After getting stuck on a street scene depicting the Grand Hotel, I put it aside and sloshed in a very small study of a nighttime streetscape behind Hatch’s Pool Hall. I didn’t even care how the figures looked, it was the color scheme I was after. I just swished everything in haphazardly. Got some great purples and blue-greens going in the building shadows and mushed it together, wet into wet. After about three minutes I thought to myself, “Not bad, now I need to go get a big 300# watercolor sheet and apply the things I’ve accomplished in this little study in the big painting, which is going to be dynamic and spectacular!”

July 29, 2005
I finished four paintings, two this afternoon, as we come down to the wire on the book. Writing, rewriting, wrestling with Meghan over dangling participles and parenthetical mumbo jumbo. It gets better as we go along. Unfortunately, as the holes appear I want to plug them with new illustrations, ten to be exact. Not going to have time to do that many. The absolute, drop dead deadline is Tuesday and I’m staying down at the Westin for our 26th wedding anniversary and I have a wife who will kick my patootie if I bring work to the Bob Boze Bell suite. Somehow I’ll make it happen.

August 1, 2005
I asked Gus to tabulate how many images I’ve done, so far, for the book and he counts 236. I think I’ve illustrated almost everyone in Cochise County in 1881. Ha. And speaking of record numbers, I’m closing in on 1,000 blog postings.

August 2, 2005
Meghan and I went through the final proofs of the book. Had maybe 35 niggling details to fix, and a couple big ones. We couldn’t finish though because her computer froze (brand new). She and Robert Ray had to reinstall Quark Xpress, so I went home and worked on a Curly Bill on horseback painting, then switched gears and whipped out a Clanton cattle drive scratchboard. Cool effects of dust.

August 3, 2005
Woke up at three a.m. and started pondering how to fill the holes in the book. Finally got up at 4:30 and did two scratchboards. One of Wells Fargo agent Hume being relieved of his pearl-handled pistols in a stage robbery. It’s at night, murky. Decent effects. The other one is of Virgil Earp riding on a posse with his dead arm flailing in the breeze. I had high hopes for this scene (I’ve wanted to do it for at least ten years) but, sigh, I overworked it. Damn! (oops, sorry for the profanity, see below).

Got into the office at about 8:30 and Gus and I plugged three new images (did a Clanton cattle drive yesterday, along with a new Curly Bill). Meghan and I went through the rest of the book and made corrections, argued over verb tense (she is a fan of consistent verbs and I’m a fan of active verbs with the difference being, she’s actually studied English and knows what she’s talking about).

August 4, 2005
Kind of fried. Hit the wall this afternoon at about 4:30. Lots of angst about the book from Robert Ray. He’s behind, tired of my last minute shenanigans. I’ve been upgrading pages, trading so-so art for better art and tweaking cutlines to add more info. Unfortunately, it’s affecting Robert’s layouts, especially ones he thought he was done with. Rather discouraging. I’ve still got three more illustrations to do tonight, but I may call it a book and let it go.

August 5, 2005
This morning I woke up at five and faced my growing edge. I decided the studies will have to be sufficient. I can do the opus version for the art show, or some other time.

I am done. There are a dozen scenes I didn’t get to do. There are more that I didn’t get to do right. But I’m not a complete slug and dog-gone -it, people like me. Or, so I pathetically hope.

August 9, 2005
Well, I thought Robert Ray killed the book last Friday night, but here we are on Monday with a slew of corrections and additions. I thought of numerous people that need to be credited and thanked. And, I woke up on Sunday and realized the genesis of the title of the book, isn’t in the book! Frank McLaury squares off against Doc Holliday and says, “I’ve got you now.” And Holliday replies, “Blaze away! You’re a Daisy if you do.” Got that in. Book goes to printer this afternoon.

"I do a first draft as passionately and as quickly as I can. I believe a story is only valid when it is immediate and passionate; when it dances out of your subconscious. If you interfere in any way, you destroy it."
—Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

August 24, 2005
I got this question today from the producer of the forthcoming BBC TV series on the American West: “What do Americans/ You / True West magazine / your readers normally understand to be the dates for the Wild West—the 1880s & 1890s? Or starting earlier and going on into the 20th century? 1860s to, say, 1910?”

I believe the answer to that excellent question is quite fluid. When I was growing up and reading True West, the conventional wisdom was that the classic "Old West" was from approximately 1815 to 1915. Other historians defined it as being post Civil War to the Oklahoma Land Rush and Wounded Knee, or, say, 1865-1892.

Today, there is a drifting of the end date forward to include even movies. I just got back from the Autry Museum in LA where they have an exhibition dedicated to Sergio Leone's Westerns, and there in a glass case, were artifacts—as if they were from the Lewis and Clark Expedition—of Clint Eastwood's pancho, gunbelt (weathered and historic looking of course) and gauntlet from the Dollars trilogy. The shocking thing is that they looked right at home in a museum context.

We find that our readers are responding to John Wayne anecdotes of filming The Searchers in the same league as the historic events John Ford was allegedly filming. It has been a half century since most of these movies, which ironically is how far back it was to the real Old West when I was a kid reading this magazine.

So will the Wild West of 2050 include events from 1985-1999? My guess is that it will.

And speaking of the West and Westerns:
“I was watching a John Wayne one reeler several months ago and was stunned at a line. The bad guys were all concerned that The Duke was going to figure them out. One critter ran in to see the head bad guy all worried. This scoundrel leaned back in his chair behind his desk and told the shaky cowpoke not to worry. he said...You ready for this...’I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse’. I like to spit my Arbuckles across the room. (It was real early morning) Either Mario Puzo or Francis Ford Coppola must have watched theses flicks.”
—Hugh Howard, Maniac #9

Hugh, it’s funny you should say this because last night I was watching more of that DVD Kathy got me at Target and in the flick Frontier Justice, 1936, one of the bad guys was named Hondo. Also, in Angel and the Badman, 1947, the family that takes in John Wayne’s outlaw character is Quaker and the storyline clearly seems to foreshadow High Noon, 1951, where the sheriff’s wife (Grace Kelly) is Quaker and doesn’t believe in violence.

“The truth in the present is strikingly similiar to the past. The patterns and the stories are the same. Only the names change.”
—Bob Boze Bell, cribbing from some Old Vaquero

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

August 23, 2005
Still hot, about 105 today, supposed to be a big storm coming in tonight. Got up at 6:40, took the dogs for a run and then cleaned and filed in studio before going into work (Operation Fresh Start is in full swing as I dig out from my multiple messes).

On the way back from Kingman Sunday, Kathy and I stopped at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg ($8 cash entry fee). Excellent show on Taos artists which included some of my fave artists like Victor Higgins. Always inspiring. Grabbed lunch at El Rancheros, a place Dave Daiss discovered last week.

Almost didn’t have a staff meeting today (to give my employees a break from my pontificating), but Robert Ray insisted we have one and we actually got some good things accomplished and saved the company $1,000.

So, I took Robert Ray to lunch today at El Encanto to talk about needed equipment and future projects. Considering what I put him through in the past two months, it’s amazing he’s even speaking to me. I had the Sonoran enchiladas with an egg on top and Robert had the machaca ($19.03 plus $4 tip, biz account).

Brian and Bill from The Cowboy Legacy Gallery vetoed Dan Harshberger’s poster design for CGII and prefer the simpler image from the full page ad (see September True West, page 39). I told Dan I’d split the cost of printing with him for a second poster design (to prove to them they made a mistake) and so we’re going to have two posters for the show and book. They’ll be $10 each at the show on September 30, and then $20 each after the show. I’ll post the two poster designs for your consideration tomorrow.

Last night I finally checked out a bargain basement DVD Kathy picked up for me at Target. It contains three Westerns, including Angel and the Badman, 1947, and The Lawless Frontier, 1934, also starring John Wayne and a cartoon, The Mild West. I watched the cartoon and Lawless Frontier which was beyond awful and racist to boot, with a Mexican bandit named Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire) and a young whippersnapper named Dusty (Gabby Hayes with only tints of gray). However, the riding stunts by legendary Yakima Canutt were outstanding and inspiring, although it appears they were tripping horses for certain stunts and that always makes me wince.

After the movie I went to bed and finished reading Once Upon A Time In Italy, a companion book to the Autry Museum show I saw last weekend in LA. Really a great read and it gave me many great ideas on how to approach new Western heroes and movies. More on this later. . .

"Look for strength in people, not weakness; for good, not evil. Most of us
find what we search for."

-- Wilbur J. Chapman

Monday, August 22, 2005

August 22, 2005
On Saturday evening the Class of 1965 met at the Powerhouse (a huge power plant built in the 1920s that was abandoned when we went to high school, then salvaged in the late nineties and turned into a museum with banquet facilities). After cocktails, the photographer hired for the event, told us to each grab a folding chair and meet him across the street at Locomotive Park, where a giant steam engine and coal car from the 1940s sits parked. As the photographer arranged folding chairs in a long row and asked some of my female classmates to take a seat, he pointed at the ground in front of them and asked for volunteers to “take a seat.” I plopped down, and Steven Craig Burford sat down on one side of me and Dickie Mesa on the other.

While we were waiting for the other classmates to get into position, Steve told me that his father was the guy who was in charge of getting the train into the park. I distinctly remember the day. It was in 1957 and they built train tracks right down the center of highway 66 and then with cranes, pulled the multi-ton behemoth into position. Steve’s father worked for the Santa Fe and their house was right next to the tracks. When I’d visit him (he played bass in the Exits) and the trains would roll through, the house would shake and it was so loud you couldn’t hear the tv. Later at the U of A, Steve had trouble sleeping because it was so quiet!

Well, here we sat, almost a half century since the train got planted, waiting to have our 40th high school reunion group photo taken. As we waited, Steve, who is quite a joker, leaned over and said, ‘There really isn’t any photo being taken, they’re just f----- with us.” We both started laughing at the absurdity of us toddling around to amuse our handlers and, as we got to giggling, we set each other off until we were both laughing and howling like a couple of kids at a grammar school Christmas pageant.

So, after three flashes from the telephoto, high on two glasses of Merlot and giddy from Burford's mischief, I just naturally faked a heart attack, clutching my chest, flopping on the grass, twitching like a middle-aged dead man. About half the class thought it was funny, the other half, well, they never got me anyway. I think it’s instructive that not one person offered to help me.

I paid $15 for the photo op and I’ll be curious to see the results.

Two nights prior to this I was channel surfing and landed on “Monsoon Wedding.” An old East Indian guy with a mustache has a microphone and is trying to be funny at a wedding reception. His cheesy jokes are embarrassing and lame. Cut to a crowd of young people. The prettiest girl says, “Who is that clown?” And a mortified young man standing next to her says, “That’s my dad.”

“That’s my dad.”
—Deena and Thomas Bell, reading this and rolling their eyes

Sunday, August 21, 2005

August 21, 2005
We are calling it the Mortality Tour. Kathy and I arrived in Kingman Friday afternoon at about four, and as soon as we landed at the King’s Inn, the legacy of death and the forced march of old age hit us at every turn. First the good news: Kathy asked for and received the AARP senior citizen discount! But, from there it was pretty much all down hill. Virtually all of my classmates have ailing, or dying parents, and more than a few of the “kids” in my class are in the process of checking out themselves. Our star quarterback drank himself to death earlier this year, ending his time on earth with an amputated leg and very sad family and friends.

But I’ll tell you this: we had one ambitious class of 126 (or was it 139? No one could seem to remember). By my count, here is what the Mohave County Union High Class of 1965 produced: five cowboys, three ranchers, two tribal chiefs, one iron worker, a dozen construction workers, a half dozen teachers and one librarian (all retired), two cops, three draftsmen, one marine, three postal workers, two health workers, five writers, three published authors, one bonified editor, two publishers, an art director, one mortgage banker, three nurses, two artists, one major drug dealer (who got out of prison the day of the banquet) a reverend and at least one scientist and one bank exec. And to our everlasting credit, no lawyers.

And speaking of the bank exec, I caddied for Jennie Torres on Saturday morning and it was a ton of fun. It was a beautiful day and the Kingman Country Club Golf Course is beautiful. I insisted on being a real caddy, and retrieved her clubs, replaced her divots and raked her sand trap shots, got her beverages and gave her zero advice. What a hoot.

At noon on Saturday Charlie Waters and I joined Bill Blake to go visit his mother Nellie, 88, in the Kingman hospital. We had a great time talking to “Mrs. Blake” and she told great stories on us, like the time she was driving a carload of kids out ot the ranch and I evidently told everyone some questionable “facts” on the Old West and then capped it with the fact that I had the “Japanese flu.” I don’t remember the rest, but it does sound like me.

And speaking of me, I tried not to make an ass of myself at the banquet, but of course, I couldn’t. That story tomorrow.

“Nothing changes more constantly than the past; for the past that influences our lives does not consist of what actually happened, but of what [we] believed happened.”
—Gerald W. Johnson

Saturday, August 20, 2005

August 20, 2005
I'm in my hometown where the wind blows 24/7. I'm meeting fellow publisher Paul Taylor this morning at IHOP to talk about his Route 66 magazine. Paul and I go way back.

For grins, I'm going to caddie for Jennie Torres, former Mucous classmate and banking mogul. When I was growing up the Kingman municipal golf course didn't have green fees, we had brown fees. No grass. I'm not making this up. The "greens" were made up of highway department sand and you had to use a roller to smooth out a path to the cup, and then putt. Too true for school, Man.

"Everyone looks so old! Except me!"
—Bob Boze Bell

Friday, August 19, 2005

August 19, 2005
Now that the book is finished and the October issue has wrapped (I just finished my editorial, 10:52 A.M.), I’m launching Operation Fresh Start. Both my studio at home and my office are complete pits, with books on the floor and art reference everywhere. My goal is to be able to actually walk upright from the front door to my desk.

I am still doing some extra paintings for the show (my goal is 10 more) and it’s nice to have some time to do them.

Trish Brink and I met with Brian Label and Bill Welch of Cowboy Legacy Gallery yesterday to go over the September 30th premiere of the book and the artwork. I had one reader of this blog who suggests that maybe we could offer a contest to have a VIP pass winner, a special guest at the show. Not a bad idea. What would be a good contest to determine a winner?

Got a new poll up. If there had been no Doc Holliday, would there have been an O.K. Corral gunfight? Go vote!

Kathy and I are leaving at noon today to attend my 40th high school reunion in Kingman. First stop, Papa Loco’s on Hualapai Road at seven tonight. Here's my prediction for the first words out of every classmate's mouths as they drive away after the party: “Everyone looks so old! Except me!”

Here’s the opening of my editorial:
Contributing editor, and friend, Leon Metz, serves up a challenge that hits me somewhere south of the solar plexus. When asked how to fix Tombstone, the author of definitive books on Pat Garrett and John Wesley Hardin, responded with, “Historians who write another dreary book on the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, aren’t doing the city any favors. Who cares any longer?”

In spite of Leon’s cogent advice, this issue contains a seven page excerpt from my new book Classic Gunfights, Volume II, Blaze Away! The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral. Ha.

“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best —and therefore never scrutinize or question.”
—Stephen Jay Gould

Thursday, August 18, 2005

August 18, 2005
More stats:

1: Number of times I have put the wrong date on a post (see yesterday).

4: Number of times I have read someone else’s blog (Dave Barry, Wonderful Russ, some guy who has a trolley in Cody and a political blog I checked out to see what others are doing).

2.5: Number of times, on average, I reread the blog after I’ve posted it.

Tomcat is on the road to New York City. He and his friend Kendra are taking a southern route. They checked out Austin’s notorious Sixth Street two nights ago. Tomas said he heard some great music, especially a band called Protocol. They landed in New Orleans on Bourbon Street two nights later and enjoyed marching bands on the street, and last night they took in the sights of Birmingham and ate great soul food at a place called La Vase. T-Boy has a route planned to hit all the music hot beds. Next stop Athens, Georgia, home of R.E.M. and the B-52s, I believe. The little bastard is living the life I wanted to live, but then I didn’t have the courage. Ha.

The O.K. Corral signature piece posted yesterday is a doubletruck in the new book. I had two versions of this scene painted. The other one had the corral fence and Johnny Behan in it, but I ruined it. Overworked it. The posse picture is of Johnny Behan and his cow-boy laden crew combing the arroyos of Cochise County looking for the Earps. Both will be in my artshow on September 30, at the Cowboy Legacy Gallery up in Carefree. It looks like I'll have about 120 pieces in the show. We are still framing even as you read this, and probably will all the way up to the day of the show. Ha. Ha.

“Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd.”
—Annie Besant

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

August 18, 2005
Today is my 1,000th blog posting ( has a counter). I have been keeping other stats myself and on this momentous day I thought I’d share them with you.

7: Number of times one of my partners has been disgusted with items posted on the blog.

998: Number of times I felt like not posting.

2: Number of times I felt like posting but had nothing to say

13: Number of days I’ve missed posting something.

1,000: Number of times it crossed my mind that the only people reading this blog are J.Rae, Jim Hatzell, Mark Boardman and J.Rae’s daughter.

98: Number of times I have used the words “bitchin’” and “stoked”.

625: Number of times I have recalled a critic of blogs who said, “Nobody cares if you had a cheese sandwich for lunch.”

2: Number of times I have noted in the blog that I had a cheese sandwich for lunch (322, if you count cheese enchiladas).

122: Number of times I have exaggerated an event for laughs.

0: Number of times I have lied about an incident (or once, if you count this one).

7: Number of times I wish I hadn’t posted a specific item.

3: Number of times I’ve pulled an item that offended someone.

3: Number of times Kathy has confronted me about a posting.

89: Number of people who have asked me if my wife gets upset when she reads the blog.

11: Number of times Kathy has actually read the blog.

1: Number of people who have told me they got real tired of the Spanish driveway storyline.

1: Number of people who teach history at the University of New Mexico, answer to the name Paul Andrew Hutton and complained about the Spanish driveway storyline.

14: Number of times I’ve actually gone to the trouble of correcting a typo or misspelling.

827: Number of quotes I have used that came from Carole Glenn (she sends me three or four quotes every day, but like Kathy, she rarely reads the blog).

0: Number of quotes that are bonified Old Vaquero Sayings.

376: Number of “anonymous” and ethnic sayings I have stolen to pass off as Old Vaquero Sayings.

8: Number of hats Buddy Boze Hatkiller actually ate.

945: Number of dollars those hats were worth.

3: Number of True West employees who hate the blog.

0: Number of employees who hate the blog more than Robert Ray.

38: Number of times I have been sorry I ever started writing a blog.

12: Number of different computers I have posted from.

1: Number of good reasons I would need to stop writing a blog.

0: number of dollars I have made from writing the blog.

”The virtue of all achievement is victory over oneself. Those who know this victory can never know defeat.”
—A.J. Cronin

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

August 16, 2005
Tomorrow will be my 1,000th blog. Hard to believe. It actually feels like much longer. Ha. I'll have the stats you need to know.

I forgot to mention that Jeff Hildebrandt and the Westerns Channel also won a Golden Boot and it was great to see Jeff get the recognition he deserves. The director of the show confided to me that their attendance had been on a long, slow slide to oblivion until the Westerns Channel began to run pieces on the awards show. Last year they saw record attendance and this year it was packed also. Producer Rob Word and Michael Emerson are to be credited as well. It's all for charity and they do a ton of work for free. But hey, when you love the West like these guys, it ain't even work, because as the Old Vaqueros were fond of saying:

"It's only work if you'd rather be some place else."

On the way home from Hollywood Dave and I stopped at the George S. Patton museum at Desert Center (east of Palm Springs and west of Blyth). For one thing, every trip over, we were tired of looking at those three big pipes coming out of the mountain, just east of there and wondering, "What the hell is that thing?" We wondered the same thing last year, and as Dave pulled off the freeway I said, "Are you tired of driving by here and not knowing?" Dave laughed and we went inside and paid our $8 and found out the skinny.

According to the woman who runs the museum those three big pipes are part of the Southern California water project, which pumps water, out of the Colorado River at Parker Dam, then right through the mountain and into LA. Amazing.

Enjoyed the museum. I love George's line, "I'm not training you men to die for your country. I'm training you so that someone else will die for his country." Now that's profound. I also didn't know that "Old Blodd and Guts" survived a ton of battles but was killed in a traffic accident in Germany several months after the war. All that risk and then Kpow, he gets T-boned by a bad driver? Too ironic and humiliating for my tastes.

"Responsibility is the price of freedom."
—Elbert Hubbard

Monday, August 15, 2005

August 15, 2005
It’s my mother’s birthday. She’s 84. Last night Lou took her out to Wapati Lodge west of Cody, her favorite place.

Robert Blake was supposed to be our table-mate at the Golden Boot Awards on Saturday night. I felt kind of nervous about him sitting next to me and thought of a couple of conversation starters, like:

• “Hey, what’s the deal with our legal system?”

• “Man, you are dressed to kill tonight.”

But Robert sat at a better table. We were on the outer ring of Saturn, in terms of clout. The popular kids (I swear show biz is so high school) sat down in the inner circle and had table numbers like six and twelve. We were at table 314.

When Wilford Brimely got his award he asked if “Robbie Blake” was in the house, and when Blake acknowledged that he was, Wilford demanded that he come up on the stage. Blake pranced, and I mean pranced, up on the stage and they hugged and Robert whispered something in Brimley’s ear and then Blake stood there while Wilford rambled on about how the things he’s done are better than what they’ve got on now, like people “eating bugs and stuff.” This got a big laugh and applause. Blake stood there like a fish out of water. I felt for him.

Tom Selleck taped his introduction for honoree Mark Harmon. Selleck is on location in Nova Scotia or Greenland, I didn’t get which, but in his accolades for Mark, Tom mentioned more than once that they didn’t have any money to pay Mark when they did Crossfire Trail and yet, Mark came aboard and gave the film so much dimension that they couldn’t have achieved with any other actor. When Mark came up on stage he quipped, "The reason they didn’t have any money was because they paid Tom." Too true for high school.

Of course our very own Phil Spangenberger got a Golden Boot and we clapped and hooted like crazy (he was the real reason we came), and he thanked True West from the podium, which was very nice. Phil is a class guy.

Besides Brimley, Powers Booth and James Caan were quite cocky in their remarks. Booth had a stunning, statuesque brunette on his arm when he sashayed in. She might have been 20, but I doubt it. Joel Haley Osmond is a little bitty guy (as is Michael Blake).

Actor Andrew Prine was introduced to me (we both appear on the Westerns channel) and he looked kind of pained, didn’t have a clue who I was yet managed to be civil. Just then a photographer angled up to us and Andrew put his hand on my shoulder and smiled like we went to high school together. Ah, student council, I remember it so well.

The only presenter who kind of lost it was Ann Rutherford who appeared in 17 Andy Hardy films. She was introducing tv mogul Jim Rogers and kind of went into monologue meltdown and kept repeating herself. It felt like a 45 minute introduction. I felt sorry for her.

Ann wasn't alone. The show went way long (it wrapped at 1:30 in the morning!) and as we filed out of the Beverly Hilton theatre, a gaggle (actually somewhere between a gaggle and a horde) of fans lined the walk all the way out to the registration area and as Dave and I walked by they all had their digital cameras primed and gave us these looks like, “Where are the stars? These are just losers. Where’s Robert Blake? And Wilform Brimley?” Or something like that.

”Reflection is the beginning of reform.”
—Mark Twain

Sunday, August 14, 2005

August 14, 2005
Back from Hollywood. Dave Daiss and I drove over and back in record time, although Dave did get a ticket (90 in a 75 on Friday morning and it took the Highway patrolman five miles to catch Dave! Ha.). This was on I-10 west of Tonapah at the Palo Verde Power Plant exit. Stopped in Quartzite at Taco Mio for breakfast. Nice little place, decent breakfast (had the machaca and eggs, Dave had the polish suasage and eggs, $20 cash, I paid, includes tip). A family across from us were drinking margaritas at eight in the morning! What a town.

At the Friday night pool party at the Sportsmen's Lodge I met Kathy from Father Knows Best! I must say I was so impressed. Her real name is Lauren Chapin and she did the show for ten years. I asked her if she got rich off the show and gets big residuals and she said, "Not a dime." As an artist, I hate stories like that. I also met Fred Willard on Saturday night at the Golden Boot Awards. He's the guy who almost always does a cameo in Chris Guest movies (you know, Spinal Tap, Best of Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind) I asked him what the next movie is going to be and he said they start in October on a "making of a movie" movie. Can't wait.

Robert Blake was supposed to sit at our table at the Golden Boots, but, well, I'll tell you that story tomorroow.

The two new paintings posted yesterday, are— Frank Stilwell's body found on the Tucson railroad tracks. Yes, that's tall Paul standing just beyond. This one seemed rushed when I did it and perhaps to gross, but it has a light, airy feeling I like. The other one is Alley Snakes and illustrates Indian Charley, in extreme closeup, with his fellow snakes lining up a shot at the back of Hatch's Billiard Parlor in March of 1882.

More postings tomorrow and more detail on my star rubbings.

"The only thing wrong with immortality is that it tends to go on forever."
—Herb Caen

Saturday, August 13, 2005

August 12, 2005
I’m in Hollywood, mingling with the wannabes, fawnabes and panzies. A full report tomorrow.

Lets take a look at some more of the art I’ve been slaving away at. By the numbers: I produced 232 new paintings and illustrations just for this book. All together there are more than 260 of my images in the tome, 11 gus Walker maps, oodles of Bob McCubbin photos. Over 100 of my paintings will be in my one-man-show at the Cowboy Legacy Gallery on September 30th (a Friday).

Here’s two more paintings to ponder.

”There is no wealth but life.”
—John Ruskin

Friday, August 12, 2005

August 12, 2005
I’m meeting Dave Daiss this morning at six and we’re heading to Hollywood. Breakfast in Quartzite, of course. Also going to Eddie Brandt’s, a photo archival Westerns store where I want to get some original 8X10s of Steve McQueen in “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and any other groovy shots for the magazine.

Mike Melrose sent me an interesting graph out of Ad Age, re: the internet has now passed radio in terms of annual U.S. ad spending. And speaking of the internet and magazines, here’s that famous east Indian magazine guru guy:

IWM: On <> you say: "The real information superhighway is magazines. The Internet is more or less a country road filled with dead ends, blind curves and pothole after pothole." What do you mean?

Husni: How many times when you're online do you find a Web site down? How many times do you try to go from one site to another, and the links are dead? Or the information is a year old? So far, the Internet has not proved itself to be the rose garden we were promised. Actually, we have discovered that there are a lot of thorns in that rose garden. And where can you get more information in less time and less space than in a magazine?

IWM: What are the biggest challenges facing magazines today?

Husni: The biggest challenge is how to efficiently reach the audience you're looking for. The days of marketing magazines using the shotgun approach -- where you just throw it out there and hope your audience will see it -- are long gone. We have over 5,000 magazines now [this must be an old magazine interview because the number is now above 6,500], which is almost three times the amount we had just 20 years ago. And newsstand space is limited. So we need to figure out the best way for magazines to reach their specific audience. It's a major challenge. The odds of remaining in business after 10 years are 1 out of 10. Magazines are published for what I like to call the three F's of publishing: fun, fame and fortune. A lot of people find fun; sometimes they find fame. It's fortune that's been elusive [well, that hasn’t gone out of date].

What is it about magazines that you find so appealing?

Husni: Magazines are like my Prozac. Even if I'm depressed I'll grab a magazine and starting looking through the pages, and it's refreshing. If I don't go to the newsstand at least once a day I feel there's something missing. I love their portability. I've always enjoyed the fact that no matter where I go I can take a magazine with me. They're the greatest invention.”

Artwork from CGII for today’s perusal includes Tom Waters and his plaid shirt (above, right), walking down the streets of Tombstone. And the Milt Joyce-Earp confrontation in the back of an Allen Streeet saloon (left). Good reference, so-so results, plenty of regret.

”We seldom regret talking too little, but very often talking too much.
This is a well-known maxin which everybody knows and nobody practices.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, August 11, 2005

August 11, 2005
We’ve had rain for 11 days straight, which is a record going back to 1921, or so. Also bizarre, ball lightning. Almost end times stuff. Tomcat called me out in the yard several nights ago to look at the lightning. Let’s just say if I saw it in a movie I’d think it was muy fake. Cluster explosions with spider web tentacles reaching out in all directions. Let's face it, God has the best special effects, yet he never gets the nod come Oscar time.

And speaking of Western Oscars, we’re taking off tomorrow morning for the Golden Boot in Hollywood. Have meetings scheduled with Powers Booth, Buck Taylor, Bruce Boxleitner, Tom Selleck, Wilford Brimley, James Caan, Mark Harmon and Debbie Reynolds. Actually, I have a press pass and will be back stage at the presentations. The director, Michael Emerson has invited me. Going to be at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Dave Daiss and I are also going to the big poolside bash on Friday night at the Sportsman’s Lodge. Free food, band, lots of native implants. You know, stuff I like.

More artwork to ponder and peruse. Here’s that lesbian, cheek to cheek painting I was talking about earlier (see image above, right), plus Curly Bill treeing Tombstone, which came out rather nice. Strong nighttime effects.

Tonight is Tomcat’s last night in Arizona. He leaves tomorrow for New York City.

Got an Email from my friend Moore in Belfast regarding the BBC series on the West I helped with last month. Here’s the schedule:

“In terms of 'Gerry Anderson's Wild West Show' I have started to paper-edit the four programs for the editing process proper which will run from 5 September thru mid / late October. The series will air on the BBC - one program per week - during the month of November. I will, of course, keep you posted as to progress.”

I’m taking Meghan and the production crew, Abby, Gus and Robert Ray out to dinner tonight at Rawhide for their hardwork on CGII.

”Thanks. Small word, big meaning.”
—Barbara Bartocci

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

August 10, 2005
Trouble in bloggersville. Tried to post yesterday morning, but kept getting "errors" box. Passed off to the expert Jason Benefield, but even he couldn’t break the jinx. He finally got it fixed by changing FTP passwords late this morning. Lots of catching up to do, so let’s go:

Went down into the Beast yesterday around two. Got to Armstrong-Prior at three, signed 20 artprints, spilled some iced coffee, met a woman named Gretchen who makes custom paper from jeans (I’m not making this up). I’m going to order some custom paper next week (with my own watermark, just like King James!) for some of my new art ideas.

Left Armstrong-Prior at about 3:45 and drove up to Arizona Art Supply on Indian School. Sky getting very dark and ominous looking. Bought more gouache and watercolor paper ($150 something, biz account). Ran into legendary artist and sculptor Robert Miley who's designing a big, controversial sculpture down at Central and Roosevelt utilizing melted down weapons. He said he’s worried about heat (or bullets) from the NRA.

Went by Dan Harshberger’s studio at 4:15 and dropped off artprints on CD. Dan is designing the art poster for the CGII show next month.

As I waded up the Dreamy Draw in my Ranger, past Squaw Peak, I mean Piestewa Peak, I noticed the dark storm straight ahead had those spooky, floating tentacles that telegraph extra-nasty weather. Turned out to be dangerously true as two people died. One, a local cowboy, tried to run his truck and horse trailer across New River and the water took him 100 yards downstream. Rescuers found him with his seatbelt on, the truck and the trailer, all upside down in the water. The horses amazingly survived (they were in car seats. Not really). The other fatality occurred up at Seven Springs where the big Cave Creek Complex fire was last month and sure enough, with the vegetation gone, the water roared off the hills and swept away a small kid.

Ended up at El Conquistador for T. Bell’s going away dinner. It was mole night so we had the special, and several beers. Kathy, Bill Glenn, Jake the Snake, Deena, Debbie and Betty Radina and Kenny showed up. Big time laughs ($111, plus $20 tip, split with Mother Radina and Kenny).

Got some more of the new artwork for the book to show you. "Nekkid Fandango" is the one I had great hopes for, but missed on (see image above, left). This is Curly Bill and a pard forcing the natives to dance nekkid for an hour. Doc vs. Ringo (see image, right) is based on Parsons’ account of the two gunfighters squaring off on Allen Street. That’s the Grand Hotel in the background (the three story building) and I couldn’t resist the ice cream sign. The actual name of this painting is: “The Pissing Match” but I didn’t include that in the book. More tomorrow.

"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding."
—Agnes Repplier

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 9, 2005
More storms, more rain. Cool now. High eighties.

Last night we met Xavier Amador at El Encanto. Had a margarita and a shrimp, from a shrimp cocktail off of Jake the Snake's plate (Kathy was bugged at me for doing it, but I was hungry and he's in college). Xavier is the man who rescued Buddy Boze Hatkiller off the streets of Manhattan. He also put up with both Deena and Thomas when they were on Long Island two summers ago. Good guy. His sister had brain surgery yesterday at the Mayo Clinic and he flew in for it.

We’re doing a Zorro piece in the next issue (yes, the sequel to the Antonio Banderas and Katherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas is coming out this fall) and Dr. Paul Hutton sent us a juicy poster of Zorro: The Gay Blade, starring George Hamilton. Too camp for words. How Hutton finds these things is beyond me, but he does. He even has an extra house to put all of this stuff in.

Speaking of an extra house, I wish I had bought one when I had the chance. Our neighbor’s ranchito north of us sold for $380,000 two years ago and it just sold for $800,000. Man, how big is this real estate bubble going to get before it bursts? It kind of feels like the bubble, doesn’t it? We paid $36,000 for two and a half acres in 1983. Just over Ratcliff Ridge they are selling five acre parcels for $500,000. Just for the land! Beyond the aesthetic high, strictly investment wise, I really should have bought land instead of a magazine.

We’re posting more images from the forthcoming book Blaze Away! Back in March I made several furtive trips to Tucson to try and get the right angle of an 1882 Southern Pacific train coming into the Old Pueblo. I also got reference photos out at Houghton Road, where Papago Station once stood. Both paintings came out rather nice. Yes, that's A Mountain in the background and I painted in the A just to be devilish (there was without a doubt no A on A Mountain in 1882. So sue me.)

My current goal is to do a cloud study every morning. Really fun. Most artists can’t do good clouds. Ed Mell is the big exception. He is a master of the form. I have a ton of reference and need to start developing it. My plan is to create good, dramatic skys, then put in the galloping posses later. Could be fascinating.

"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."
—Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 08, 2005

August 8, 2005
One of those damned newfangled micro-bursts hit a power transformer south of us last night and knocked out the power north of Grapevine wash. Happened around five o’clock. My neighbor Steve said the pole was on fire and everything. Road blocked. People couldn’t get past. No lights until around nine p.m. Then power kept coming back on for a minute, then going off. All the clocks blinking, with multiple tones from the computer to the coffee machine groaning and sputtering and dying each time. "This can’t be good," Kathy said in the darkness.

Tomcat came in at about nine, when power finally came on for good. He had outrageous stories to tell about working at the Alternatives Center in Flag. Kids today. Tom also related the following: "I was sitting in Biffs Bagels this morning and heard a CD of Johnny Cash covering a bunch of songs and it was really good. It got really good reviews as well. His version of ‘One’ by U2 is so good. 10 times better than the original; I think."

Well, I thought Robert Ray killed the book last Friday night, but here we are on Monday with a slew of corrections and additions. And over the weekend I thought of numerous people that need to be credited and thanked. And, I woke up on Sunday and realized the genesis of the title of the book, isn’t in the book! Blaze Away! comes from this exchange: Frank McLaury squares off against Doc Holliday and says, "I’ve got you now." And Holliday replies, "Blaze away! You’re a Daisy if you do." Got that in. Book goes to printer this afternoon.

The stagecoach painting that Thomas posed for came out rather nice (see painting, left.) I added a cave wall to the upper left to add a bit of composition drama to the piece. Highwaymen preferred to stop stagecoaches at choke points on the trail, where the stage either had to slow down, like in deep sand, or the top of a hill, or at a narrow pass, like I have illustrated in this painting.

I’m getting responses about new True West Moments running on the Westerns Channel, so I Emailed Jeff at the Westerns Channel and asked him what’s on the schedule. Here’s his reply:

"The True West Moments started again on August 1 with ‘Prairie Fuel’ and ‘The Term Cowboy’. I just edited the September TWM: Mounts, Fanning and Chaps. Planning these for October: Tombstone Ice Cream, Restaurants and a repeat of Wyatt Earp Lifestyle. (We show Tombstone again in October) November should be Saloon Piano and Fire Danger December has your Stage Coach Robbery piece and the One Liners from Movies.”
—Jeff Hidlebrandt, the Westerns Channel.

By the way, Jeff and the Westerns Channel will receive a Golden Boot this coming weekend in Hollywood for keeping the legends alive. Dave Daiss and I are driving over (actually flying over, if Dave is driving) for the event.

As for my worrying about the book, I got this advice from John:
"I'll paraphrase Bear Bryant, who was fairly successful at his chosen field. On Saturday I think we're never ready. I can only dwell on the many things I didn't have time to teach."
—Maniac #15, not #1, John Hinrichs, Geneseo, Il

“Because of your noting that Tom Mix used a pinch crease, I was able to add to my costume seminar for the SASS Convention the line, 'Not even Tom Mix wore a Tom Mix crease.'"
—Curt Rich True West Maniac #244

"Hyperbole is cowboy oxygen."
—The New York Times,
August 7, 2005

Sunday, August 07, 2005

August 7, 2005
Very hot and muggy out. But not as hot as Tonopah, west of here, which allegedly has 125 degree tap water this time of year. Mad Coyote Joe claims in his new book, "On The Chile Trail" that Tonopah means “hot water under bush,” which I’m not sure I buy, but it’s sure funny.

I was looking at Joe’s new book because this is my first weekend off in a very long time and I want to make some Sonoran style Mexican food chicken and Joe is the Man.

Last night Kathy and I drove out to Glendale and took Mother Radina out to dinner at Applebee’s. I got a $25 gift certificate from a speech I gave (can’t remember who it was, been carrying the gift card for some time). Had a grand time. I had a steak and garlic mashed potatoes, Betty had the salmon and Kathy had an exotic burger deal. Bill was $33 minus $25. We left the waitress a $10 tip.

On a whim, we dropped in at Deer Valley 30 Cinemas on the way home and played Russian Movie-ette, meaning we took whatever was showing closest to the time we pulled up. Turned out to be “War of the Worlds.” ($19! Eight bucks a piece! Ay-yi-yi! The next thing you are going to tell me is that gas is above $2.40 a gallon). Deena saw it several weeks ago and told me she hated the ending and basically ripped the movie so neither Kathy and I were expecting much. We both had a great time. Great special effects. There were plot holes (so if the machines needed people to eat for sustinence, why did they destroy so much food in the New York sequence?), but beyond that it was just fun.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I took Tomas out in the back yard and posed him for a painting I was doing of a stagecoach robbery. Cristina took a photo of me sketching the T Boy in his skivvies and frock coat. When Cristina got back to Spain she posted the digital photos of her trip on one of those webside photo deals which Tomas took me to online and showed me. I asked him to download the photo of me sketching him, so I could use it as another reference for the painting. I’ll post that photo, plus the sketch I did of Tomas, and then the final painting, which will run in CGII which goes to the printer tomorrow. Got that?

Oh, and I couldn’t help myself, Today I started a big painting of the three assassins of Virgil, utilizing the effects I originally wanted but didn’t get for the book. I’ll post those two for your comparison as the week goes on.

For those of you paying extra attention, Mickey Free is on deck.

”A pint can’t hold a quart—if it holds a pint it is doing all that can be expected of it.”
—Margaret Deland

Saturday, August 06, 2005

August 6, 2005
Slept in this morning and it felt, oh so nice. Woke up at five, realized the book is done, smiled broadly and went back to sleep. Finally got up at about 6:30.

Muggy out. We've been getting rain almost every night. Mornings are cooler. Time to clean up my studio mess and refile all the books and photo reference. May rent a front-end-loader.

As I pound it out towards the one thousandth blog (this is 989), the comments keep coming in:

"I joined the fun of reading your blog in 2003 (TW timeline of Travel Issue featuring a giant jackalope on the cover). It was a great time to "get onboard" as the magazine had hit a milestone with a run of 50 years. Appreciated those extra bonus issues to celebrate the anniversary. Why I got hooked on your blog is the combination of soap opera, reality tv, history, antiques roadshow, drama, comedy and survivor island rolled into one. (Besides, Bell reminds me of my Dad and how he loved the journey of an open road, historical markers, seeing the country (mountains, meadows, valleys, plains, deserts, big rivers & western skies), Mom & Pop cafes, buffalo herds & long horn cattle, museums & desperados. The Classic Gunfight's are first-rate. Bell's depth of scope analyzing each legendary old west shootout feels as tho' he had been sitting ringside during the battle ~ and damn, those maps of Gus's are top-notch! Hope you're paying him enough. *** Bell is a master of (his own) words. His expressive vocabulary includes, "patootie" ... "niggling" ... "cellphone-hell" ... "dadster" ... "hatkiller" ... "jacked" ... "into the beast" (as opposed to, "Into the West") ... "cranking" ... "Aaggghhh" ... "in the zone" ... "quite amazing" ... really. If Bob Boze Bell's nimble fingers and artistic flare don't entertain us, his nimble mouth will. *** The only thing I have wondered about is why he hasn't attempted artwork portraying one of Judge Parker's executions, first having convinced Mike Melrose to pose dangling from the gallows while Boze captures the "right effects." Having met BBB in person I found him to be a good-natured, level-headed guy (with a twinkle in his eye), who is open and likes controversial issues. (And, yes ... I don't doubt for a second BBB was a handful of trouble for his mother & teachers and scoffs at 90% of the medical advice given to him by his physicians.) For the record, (I spent a little time with Mike Melrose at Northfield), Melrose says nicer things (sings real praise for Bell's innovative ways) about his trail boss, than Bob says about his sometimes errant colt. Being a "regular-kind-of-joe", the kind who can roll up his shirtsleeves and clean packrats out of the engine of a '49 Ford truck, whip up a batch of pancakes for his wife and kids or chomp down a bowl of Grape Nuts for breakfast while reading the obits to check the ages (too close to his own he obsesses) of other old wranglers who now receive their mail at the end of the trail ... makes Bell's readers feel connected to the "Big Galoot in Cowboy Boots." Bob seeks the opinions of others ... the sharing of ideas & listening is key to his team's success. Subscribing to TRUE WEST and logging onto the blog is therapeutic for history addicts. There we feel welcomed & understood and share a common bond. Was amazed when I received a phone call one evening from R.G. Robertson of TRUE WEST personally thanking me for joining the Maniac Club ... what other magazine makes you feel like family?"
—J.Rae, Maniac #12

More images from the upcoming book and artshow will be coming to this space (I'm still fighting the urge to reclaim more scenes!).

"When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends."
—Old Vaquero Saying


Friday, August 05, 2005

August 5, 2005
We all have a growing edge. Mine is learning to let go. If you have been reading this blog for more than two days you know I have a tendency to work things to death (and even rework work that has been worked to death prior to the reworking). I went home last night mulling the last two pieces of art for the CGII book. One is of Wyatt and Doc leaning out of the train as it approaches Tucson in the dusk. I wanted the pink light of the Catalinas to be seen reflecting off the windows of the train. I wanted steam to be trailing along the bottom of the car, and I wanted to portray the Rincons way off in the distance as a blue, shimmering apparition. And last, but not least, I wanted a strong likeness of Wyatt and Doc. Oh, and the passenger train cars have to be accurate to 1882. I wanted to do lettering on the side of the car (Southern Pacific?) and I wanted the hint of a gun to be seen in the darkness at Wyatt’s waist. So much for the first of two images I wanted to execute last night.

On the other one, I wanted to see the three shooters of Virgil in the darkness of the Palace Saloon under construction. We are at a dramatic angle and the ribs of the unfinished roof are overhead, with the three silhouetted shooters side by side aiming out of the darkness, their features obscured by the night, their ominous visage portending doom.

At least that's the images in my mind's eye. Of course, I got none of that. Well, maybe some of that, in a "nice study" kind of way. Two efforts, both so-so. When I invariably run into these kinds of inpasses, rather than redoubling my efforts and doing another painting to build on it, or fix the mistakes of the "study," I instead find myself doing a curious thing. I go get my train books and look for photographs of "pash" cars that ape the angle I want. I can do this for hours. I did do this for an hour before I went to sleep last night.

I had plenty of task oriented dreams: tests not prepared for, logistical nightmares of moving furniture to other towns with trucks that won’t run (in one dream I’m moving the cars along with my feet, like Fred Flinstone).

This morning I woke up at five and faced my growing edge. I decided the studies will have to be sufficient. I can do the opus version for the art show, or some other time.

I am done. There are a dozen scenes I didn’t get to do. There are more that I didn’t get to do right. But I’m not a complete slug and dog-gone -it, people like me. Or, so I pathetically hope.

"I have been reading your blog everyday now for a year. I was always interested in what a crazy life you must live in. I found this after subscribing to True West and doing searches on the internet. I like to see what you've been up to. I like to keep up on what's going on with the old West. Your blog is perfect for me to find out. You need more pictures!!!"
—Nicholas Narog

This is the third or fourth reader to request more pics, so starting soon we’ll post some shots of the art (see above for the two paintings I was obsessing about last night.)

This just in from Carole: "Marla Bush called to subscribe today. She found a copy of True West in the Billy the Kid Museum in Hico, Texas and really liked it!"

"Worry gives a small thing a big shadow."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August 4, 2005
Kind of fried. Hit the wall this afternoon at about 4:30. Lots of angst about the book from Robert Ray. He’s behind, tired of my last minute shenanigans. I’ve been upgrading pages, trading so-so art for better art and tweaking cutlines to add more info. Unfortunately, it’s affecting Robert’s layouts, especially ones he thought he was done with. Rather discouraging. I’ve still got three more illustrations to do tonight, but I may call it a book and let it go.

Got another blogger testimonial this morning:

"I've been reading your blog for a year or more. I found it by doing a web search for Bob Boze Bell. I liked your show on KSLX and wanted to see if you had another radio gig. Maybe one that broadcasted on the Web? What I like about your blog is just the way you do it. Could use more pix though. I don't like it when you don't post. Make 'em hungry, huh Bob?

"BTW, I saw a still from a Tom Mix film posted on the web that clearly shows the ‘leader of the outlaws’ wearing a Tom Mix-style hat while confronting Mix. Can't remember URL."
—name withheld by request

Regarding our latest poll, I got this dialogue exchange from Alan Huffines:

Meathead: "After all, we stole Texas from Mexico."

Archie Bunker: "We didn't steal it. They was only too happy to give it to
us after we beat the hell out of them in the war."

The September issue came in today and it’s a beauty. Abby did a great cover. Very proud of her. We’re wrestling with the October issue now. Problems with tophead design. Didn’t need this at this time, but here you go. It’s part of the deal.

"Seize the moment before it’s gone,
For another day begins at dawn."

—Clay Harrison

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

August 3, 2005
We had a huge storm blow in last night. Tons of rain, wind and "micro-bursts." I don’t remember us having micro-bursts as a kid, just "heap big rain." Power went out twice. Roofs blown off in Phoenix. Dogs were scared, scratching on the door. They hate the thunder. Sat out on the patio with Buddy Boze Hatkiller for a while and listened to the thunder and rain on the roof. He put his big, fat face in my lap, like a little kid. Nice and cool out.

Woke up at three a.m. and started pondering how to fill the holes in the book. Finally got up at 4:30 and did two scratchboards. One of Wells Fargo agent Hume being relieved of his pearl-handled pistols in a stage robbery. It’s at night, murky. Decent effects. The other one is of Virgil Earp riding on a posse with his dead arm flailing in the breeze. I had high hopes for this scene (I’ve wanted to do it for at least ten years) but, sigh, I overworked it. Damn! (oops, sorry for the profanity, see below).

Got into the office at about 8:30 and Gus and I plugged three new images (did a Clanton cattle drive yesterday, along with a new Curly Bill). Meghan and I went through the rest of the book and made corrections, argued over verb tense (she is a fan of consistent verbs and I’m a fan of active verbs with the difference being, she’s actually studied English and knows what she’s talking about).

Speaking of someone who knows their verbs, here’s Fred Nolan’s take on this blog:

"I suspect the reason people love it is because of its blithely supreme, surreal, airheaded vanity, its implicit, total assumption that anyone, anyone at all could be remotely interested in such totally irrelevant details of your existence as where you ate, what you ate, how much it cost and how much you tipped, its anally-retentive daily examination of the lint in your navel and -- best of all -- the trials, the torments, the agonies of Being An Artist, struggling with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, yet somehow, miraculously, remaining through it all this Really Nice Guy who everybody loves and indulges and who doesn't ever lose his cool (even when his dog eats his best hat). It's a perfect creation, a daily confirmation that life is best lived in a Walter Mitty world where self-indulgence is a priority, any real contribution to society is a nuisance, where someone else will always come up with the answers, and taking responsibility is for poor shlubs who can't think fast enough. And which every day prompts the question: where on earth does a man get the time for such self indulgence, and even when he does, why on earth would he bother?"
—Fred Nolan, Chalfont St. Giles, England

I must admit, I laughed at Fred’s painfully truthful words, until I cried. I’m not joking. I may be buggy from being on double-deadline for too long, but this really slayed me. But wait, there’s more. Check these out:

"I've been reading the blog since you started it. My favorite thing is the quote at the end of the day. My least favorite is the profanity (this is a family magazine and a great way to get kids interested in history!). How to improve it? Add more pictures."
—Mark Kilburn, TW Maniac 235

How long reading the blog
Over a year now...

How did you find it?
Read mag, found TW website, subscribed, then went to BLOG..daily reading to start my day

What do you love about it?
Profanity, Sex, and sick humor...and of course the humanity of it all

What do you hate about it?
Missed postings...I always think the worst has happened....
—Jim Ed

"I started reading the blog about a month before I subscribed to TW. I think
that was summer of last year. I got sweet talked into becoming a Maniac by
one of your ladies there at TW and am Maniac# 9. I found out about you
through your little vingettes on the Westerns Channel. Which, by the way, is
the only thing they don't show over and over and over, well you get the idea.

"To use the word love is a stretch but I really enjoy you whining about
struggling with your art. One of the things I hate is you whining about
struggling with your art. I enjoy you describing your lunches. I hate you
using the house account all the time you scamp. I hate when you lambast
western tv shows and western movies and especially when you say anything
against the Duke. He was my childhood hero. A guy without a dad growing up
could do worse that his screen persona as a roll model. Besides, these are
the shows and guys that got us interested in studying western history. I
think it's cute that you like those draggy Italian Westerns.

"I like it that you have a Wyatt Earp obsession. I do to and can't figure out
what is wrong with me. I like how you procrastinate on deadlines. I like how
you respond to emails when folks comment on the blogs and i especially enjoy
your sense of humor."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac #9

P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you for
recommending you give Into the West a chance after I watched the first
episode. I barely made it through the second. What a waste of time.

"A good laugh is sunshine in a house."
—William Thackeray