Monday, July 31, 2006

July 31, 2006
Cloudy and overcast. And muggy. Lots of meetings and planning for 2007 issues. Samantha has doubled sales on web from this time last year. She's moved 80 coffee mugs and 50 mousepads so far. Really encouraging and exciting. And she assures me she has just begun.

Supper vs. Dinner vs. Road Traditions
"Here in Michigan, lunch is the noon meal and supper is the evening meal. That leaves the ubiquitous 'Dinner'. Some people here call lunch dinner and some call supper dinner and some use the term dinner to refer to a mid-afternoon meal like, 'come at 3:00 for Sunday dinner.' I've even heard it used in re: a late night meal. Hope that this clears everything up. In regards to Happy Valley road and your post of two days ago mentioning the same: What's up with whom ever is in charge of road names out there? I was out in that area a little over a year ago visiting my stepson who lives just off Happy Valley road and when I found out that it's name had been changed to Happy Valley road from Stage Coach Road Number One I was incensed. Don't these people have anything better to do than screw with tradition?"
Â?Bob Wheeler, Mayfield, Michigan

The short answer is no. People out here do not have anything better to do than screw with road names. And we've got some dilly's: Ho Hum Lane (I'm not making this up), and it gets dicey when the fanciful meets the avenues.

Lots of artwork to do. Started a big scratchboard of the Four Peaks basin. Not sure it's working, need to go home and take another look. Why?

"Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing you are looking at."
Â?Paul Valery

Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 30, 2006
Grandma Betty Radina and Debbie Radina came by the BBB suite yesterday afternoon. The kids had over a bunch of their friends, Ursula, Rachel, Andy and Biggy Bill (Bill Glenn). They all hung out by the pool and played volleyball and got too much sun. Mom and dad visited with Grandma, took a nap and read.

Last night we rented an in-room movie, Inside Man, the Spike Lee film starring Denzel Washington, Jody Foster and Clive Owen, about a bank robbery gone terribly right. I really liked it. Very clever and tight plotting (Something I’m especially interested in, as we’re storyboarding the top secret project.) It cost $11.99 to rent. Speaking of which, Deena was looking at room service this morning and an “American Breakfast” (two eggs, bacon and toast) is $24 plus an automatic 21% gratuity and tax and something else. Basically to get breakfast delivered it costs north of $30 per person. We decided to go off site to have breakfast.

Yesterday, my son, the camp counselor, told me the following:

TB: How many ADD kids does it take to screw in a light bulb?

BBB: I don’t know. How many Attention Deficit Disorder kids does it take?

TB: Let’s go ride bikes!

Got up this morning, drank coffee and basically solved all the war problems in the Middle East and beyond. My kind of Sunday morning. Drove over to the Good Egg for breakfast (five of us ate for $33, see room service item above). Checked out at 11, drove home. Big rain during the night. Standing water everywhere. Got out to the house and dogs were thrilled to see me (Every day is Christmas Day to a dog). Took them on a bike ride. Came back and read the paper by the pool. Kathy and Tomas went to Costco for groceries.

I came out to the studio and looked at my recent efforts and made a vow to push myself farther. Why?

”Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
—T. S. Eliot

Saturday, July 29, 2006

July 29, 2006
I'm sitting in the lobby of the Weston Resort. It's $16 if you sign on in your room, but free if you sign on in the lobby. Go figure.

Great night last night. Kathy, Tomas, Deena and Frank went to Malee's Thai Restaurant on Main in Scottsdale last night for our anniversary dinner ($101 plus $20 tip, my account). Then walked over to The Comedy Spot on Third Ave and caught the Stagebenders, "two bald, chubby guys" who perform their "riotously funny and completely unscripted comedy act." Fifteen bucks each to get in, plus a two drink minimum. Kathy and I had the seltzer water. Ha. And the comedians ribbed a guy in the front row for being "old" but he was only 45. I looked around and realized I was easily the oldest guy in the place. And with my cowboy hat I had the distinct impression that the comedians and the bouncers were looking at me with that "be careful, don't say anything to upset the old man.

Got home at ten, slept in, drank coffee and solved life in the morning. Kids came in and we laughed and laughed. Kathy sprang for breakfast and she wanted to go downtown to Matador so Deena drove and we had a big huevos rancheros feast. Got back at 11 and took a nap. Kids went down to play volley ball and swim. Too radical for me. Sketched Remington scenes all day, got about 15 done. Felt good. Came down here at 4:30 to post. Kids ordered out for pizza. There's a rumor they want to attend the pool movie at eight (you float on inner tubes in the pool and watch a movie). Might attend if I can wear long johns. Ha.

"May I never miss a sunset or a rainbow because I am drooling towards my shoes."

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28, 2006
Picked up the girls last night at nine. Got the BBB suite at ten. Met with the head of Westin security this morning about guests stealing BBB prints out of an outdoor pavilion area. They have mostly wedding parties there and the guests stole "Serenade of Billy the Kid" and "In His Cups: Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday Spinning the Cup Scene". Obviously, the thieves have good taste in art. I told Bob I would replace the paintings. They also had True West magazines and two of my books in the suite which was also nice.

Supper Vs. Dinner In Midwestern Slang
" Don’t know about Midwestern but in Nebraska, the noon meal is dinner and the evening meal is supper."
—Randy Brown

Yes, you are correct. I have dyslexia. Ha. But the testimony in the Caldwell shooting says "supper" and Talbot was at the fight by one p.m., so I'm not sure how that happened or what it means. Could supper have had a different meaning in the Old West.

Kathy and I have been married for 27 years as of today. Don't quite know how I did that, but I like the following quotell and agree completely.

"We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck, but part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness."
—Ellen Goodman

Thursday, July 27, 2006

July 27, 2006
The girls are flying in tonight from Puerto Rico. Tomas and I are picking them up at terminal four at nine, then we’re retiring to the Bob Boze Bell Suite at the Westin Hotel for our annual free weekend (this is our sixth year and we have one more). For an explanation as to why it’s called The Bob Boze Bell Suite and why it's free, check out last year’s posting in the archives.

Going to meet with Bob Newman of the Westin about several BBB paintings, actually prints, that have been stolen from a pavilion (it’s outdoors), and they want to replace them.

Bob and Trish Brink are driving to Santa Fe today for a getaway. Both do so much for True West it’s not even funny.

Dan Buck Sent Me This And I Laughed Out Loud at The 2 Fast 2 Furious Capsule
They write better by writing shorter.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006, at 7:05 PM ET

“If you want to write better, an old mentor of mine once said, write tighter. Pick the fewest possible words, he said, and rely on compression to make your ideas explode off the page. He wasn't thinking about the film capsules in the New York Times' daily TV listings when he shared this wisdom with me, but he could have been. Outside the Times classified pages, nobody does more with the English language with less space in the paper.

“The capsules spend 20 words—and usually fewer—to pass informed judgment on movies. Even if you never intend to watch any of the films, the capsules make for good morning reading. Consider this taut kiss-off of The Matrix Revolutions: ‘Ferocious machine assault on a battered Zion. Stop frowning, Neo; it's finally over.’ Appreciate, if you will, the efficient setup and slam of the 2 Fast 2 Furious capsule: ‘Ex-cop and ex-con help sexy customs agent indict money launderer. Two fine performances, both by cars.’ And for compression, it's hard to better the clip for the Julie Davis feature Amy's Orgasm. It warns potential viewers away with just four syllables: ‘Change the station.’"

Our Style Editor Jane Bischoff requested that I document the events I have been to where I showed off my Wrangler ensembles so she can send it to her rep and get more Wrangler clothing for me. Here’s a smattering:

• Wore Wrangler Boot Cuts and long-sleeved Wrangler shirt and tie to Golden Boot Awards in Beverly Hills, August 12, 2005. Wilford Brimley said to me, “Nice ass, son.”

• November 17-19, 2005: wore my Wrangler ensemble for two days of shooting True West Moments for the Westerns Channel. Taped in Tombstone and Tucson. The mayor in Tombstone yelled at me, “Tell the truth!” and I took this as an endorsement, or at least a statement, on my new look.

• June 2, 2006: Wore dark blue Wrangler shirt, white tie and Wrangler boot cuts as Grand Marshal of the Meade, Kansas Dalton Days Parade. Literally dozens of people turned out for this and cheered me. Well, I guess some of them waved would be a more accurate description.

• Attended the End of Trail Festival outside Albuquerque, New Mexico and was a featured speaker in the big tent. Of course I wore my Wranglers, and while speaking, slapped my ass several times exclaiming, "These puppies are free! And I know how to get more of 'em!"

• July 16-19, 2006: wore Wranglers throughout southern Arizona, and for my speech at the WOLA Convention at Sierra Vista. A top secret writer said to me while there, “Now I understand why your dogs eat your hats.”

There’s more, of course, but you get the idea (sorry Jane, I'll turn in a real one, I promise).

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 26, 2006
I'm on the second "E" in Deadline. Hanging out bigtime. Worked all day on seven illustrations for the Caldwell Talbot Gang shootout for the October issue. Goes to press tomorrow. Fortunately Robert Ray has cleared the decks and can work with me on it today. Wanted to get a good handle on what those Texas cowboys looked like (there are no known photos of any of them). Finished at two, got back into the office as soon as I could. Robert scanned them and we got to work. Lots of massaging. Gus's map came in last night and we shoe-horned that in. Rod Cook sent us the actual location of the Goddell house, where Talbot had his supper (midwestern talk for the noon meal, pretty much in eclipse today by the modern term "lunch"). Had to change that on the Mapinator's map, because when he did it in Alabama we didn't know where the house was. Now we do. Exactly. Thanks Rod.

Picked Thomas Charles up at Happy Valley Road and I-17 yesterday. He got a ride, and I was supposed to meet him at Carefree Highway but he went to sleep on the drive down and the Orme Ranch girl driving went right past the exit. After about five minutes I called him, which woke him up and he sheepishly called me and asked me to drive another five miles to Happy Valley Road. I was bugged. He made up for it by coming home and washing the dishes. I am so amazed. If someone had polled me I would have declared that Kathy and I split the household chores 50-50. What a joke that is. Bookoo dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor, bed unmade, ants on the kitchen counter, milk gone sour AND THERE'S NOBODY TO BLAME!!! This ain't right, Man. Well, I hate to admit it but I feel like an ass. What a self-righteous goober I am. Called Kathy's cell and basically left that message. She called this afternoon, from Puerto Rico and wanted me to repeat it, and when I did, she admitted she had gotten the message but just wanted to hear me say it again. (Women—I don't know what I did to deserve one, but thankyou Jesus).

Tomas also drove my Ranger down to get it emissions tested. This is also a joke (the testing, that is), but enough ranting for one day. Oh, here's a photo (see above) of Tomas in his BBB sugarloaf sombrero at Orme Ranch. Nice shade, eh?

"I sincerely believe blogging can save America."
—John Jay Hooker (sorry John, but you're going to have to leave your house to save America.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 25, 2006
Woke up to a muggy morning. Went out on the bike early (6:15). Big thunderheads over Skull Ridge. Smell of freshly mown hay up by Barro’s. Cutting horse practicers spinning in circles and going backwards up at Rockaway Hills.

Lots of feedback on recent blogs. Here’s my faves:

Tora! Nora! Tora!
“I love Nora Roberts, good story line, you can read it fast, doesn't take
much brain power and just enough sex to keep you interested. Kind of like your blog.”
—Julie Duerinck

Hey Ho, It’s Not TV It’s HBO
“I just caught a promo for the series Deadwood on HBO a few minutes ago. It showed Wyatt Earp & his brother arriving in town. I remembered us having a discussion about this subject a couple of years ago. You said that the Writer/Producer was known to check out your blog from time to time and don't be surprised to see the Earps on the show. This is the first confirmation that I have on it. It couldn't happen any too soon as the show has been boring as hell lately! I thought you would like to know.”
—Jim Hatzell

Harpin’ On Earp II
“Happened to watch an old episode of Cimarron Strip with Stuart Whitman over the weekend.

“It feature a character named Wylie Harpe, an old lawdog friend of the marshal's, who had come to town looking for some easy money. He kept referring to Tombstone, and said he'd come from the gold fields in Idaho.

“Eventually, the two had a falling out...with the Whitman character saying that some folks thought Harpe a hero for what he did in Tombstone, but Bill Breakenridge told a different story...and that Harpe's tale of driving Ben Thompson out of Ellsworth was a myth. He then accused Harpe of being a two bit thug, con man, grifter, card cheat, etc., etc.

“It was a big evisceration of, Harpe...and when it came time for the two men to shoot it out, he walked away.

“What I found interesting was not just the slam on Earp. But his character's name, Wiley Harpe, is that of a real live guy. Wiley--also known as Little Harpe--and his brother Micajah (Big Harpe) terrorized parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas around 1800. They were accused of dozens of murders, many of them incredibly gruesome (they supposedly killed their own infants for making too much noise). Some books refer to them as America's first serial killers. Micajah was shot down by a posse. Wiley disappeared for a few years. He helped track down another Natchez Trace killer named Sam Mason, using the alias Sedden. But when he brought in Mason's head, somebody recognized him. He died on the gallows.

“It can't be a coincidence that they named the Earp character after this”
—Mark Boardman

Oh, This Is Bush
“US Senator Craig Thomas gave me the letter he received from President Bush stating Bush's support for the National Day of the Cowboy resolution for 2006. I brought it in to the office in case any of you would be interested in seeing it.”
—Bethany Braley, Regional Sales Manager, True West Magazine

Proof That KFI Has 1,200 Affiliates
“I heard you being interviewed on a radio news program last week about Pioneer
Town being burned. Best regards.”
—Joe de Kehoe

I’m driving up to Orme Ranch this afternoon to pick up my son. He couldn’t get a ride. Sometimes I worry that I have not been tough enough on him. My father said as much, but no doubt his father said the same thing about me. Kathy and I had fights over raising him. One time I was out on the patio and Tomas was trying to kick a soccer ball past me and I wasn’t letting him. He was getting frustrated because I wasn’t coddling him, and Kathy comes out madder than a wet hen, because she felt I was abusing him. She wanted me to let him win. She went back into the house and we went back to the game and I still didn’t let him score.

“When we confuse pampering and coddling with instilling self-esteem we really encourage the upbringing of young, sensitive children who have no inner strength whatsoever. When it comes time for such overpraised, underachieving kids to find success in the competitive global market-place, they will be confused, fearful and ineffective.”
—Steve Chandler

Monday, July 24, 2006

July 24, 2006
Heard from the girls in Puerto Rico last night. Kathy spent all day on the beach reading (this is her Old West). Unfortunately, Deena left her digital camera in a cab and lost all of her San Francisco photos. She and her boyfriend Frank went to San Fran last Monday (Deena had financial presentations in San Jose, or Sacramento, I can't remember which) and took my suggestion to try out Sam Wo’s in Chinatown for some first class abuse. They did, and called me from there, regaling me with all the abuse and good food, although Deena said they sat next to a woman from Ohio who had heard about this legendary place, but she added cryptically, “Don’t read the health code violations downstairs.” Of course, after dinner, Deena went downstairs and read them (Gee, I wonder where she gets that from?) and she related to me it said things like, “Stop storing raw chicken next to the bleach,” and stuff like that. We laughed.

Lots of catching up in the office. I put the finishing touches on the Caldwell, Kansas Talbot Gang shootout copy, had Meghan Email it to Gus (for some reason my office computer won’t load or send Email), so he can wrap the map. Put three scans in production for CG, came home to do an illustration of Mabel Cason Lang for her obit. Looked up the photo of her in Glenn Boyer’s “Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp,” but Glenn doesn’t ID the two Cason daughters. Called Mark Boardman and Neil Carmony for help, but they didn’t know. May have to punt and do a blend of the two sisters, unless any of you know where there’s another pic of Mabel, or which daughter is which in the photo of them with Josephine Earp (Wyatt’s shrew of a “companion”).

Speaking of all things Wyatt, a funny thing happened after my WOLA speech in Sierra Vista last Wednesday. Marshall Trimble introduced me to the crowd and he told a funny story about us deer hunting together east of Ashfork (which we never did), and then he said I had a new book out: “Butch Cassidy, The Daughter That Hopalong Never Talked About.” Decent laughs all around and he always gets the crowd warmed up. My speech went fine, and afterwards I retired to Mark Boardman’s book table to sign books. The third guy in line comes up and says, “I want your new book,” and I said, “Blaze Away: The 25 Gunfights Behind the O.K. Corral?” and he said, “No, the one about Butch Cassidy.” I told him that was a joke, but he sure looked disappointed.

“If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires.”
—Abigail Van Buren

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 23, 2006
Spent the morning immersed in Frederick Remington’s life and art. Grabbed all of my books on him (six) and spent some time studying and tagging scenes of him for use in the top secret project. He was a big, hefty boy (think Randy Quaid), Yale educated (he was a rusher on the football team, 1876) and he had relatives who demanded he not become an artist (this is an oddly recurrent theme among successful artists, including both Roy and Walt Disney, proving, I suspect, you get what you resist. The moral being, perhaps, if our schools spent more time discouraging art, maybe more talented artists would demand to become artists!).

Last night I was channel surfing (one of the great benefits of baching is it’s so great to not have to share the clicker) and landed on the last 45 minutes of L.A. Confidential. I forgot how excellent this film is, and I must say, next to Chinatown, it’s probably the best, sexy, film noir crime potboiler before or since. I totally forgot that the punchline to the movie is Kim Baysinger and Russell Crowe’s characters escaping to Bisbee, Arizona. Baysinger plays a high classed whore who resembles Veronica Lake, and she has a pillow with the state of Arizona stitched on it and Bisbee in big letters down in the corner (didn’t she get the Oscar for best actress for this role?). Early in act three she casually mentions to a big, dumb cop (Crowe) that she was born in Bisbee and plans on going back there to open up a dress shop. In the final scene, with Crowe lying wounded and heavily bandaged in the backseat of a 1950 Packard (Pontiac? Not sure), she tells the ambitious L.A. cop (Guy Pierce): “Some men get the world. Others get hookers and a trip to Arizona.”

That made me laugh out loud. By the way, speaking of Bisbee and the Rose Canyon Suites, when you go to their website (see link below), the room pictured at left, is the suite where we stayed and the table shown is the work space where we spread out our three dozen 3X5 cards and storyboarded our movie on paper.

Nora Roberts has written 162 novels in 25 years, more than once publishing 11 in a single year. She is known mainly as a Romance Writer and I know about her only because Book Crazy Debbie used to tell me how many crates of books Nora sold when Debbie had a bookstore down on Bell Road. Nora writes from 9 to 5 every day of the year and she adds, “If you love what you do, you do a lot of it.” Her favorite TV show? “Deadwood is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen on TV. . .it’s all about the writing. Deadwood is Shakespeare with obscenities. It’s brilliant on every possible level. My favorite character is Calamity Jane. She’s riveting.”

I am still playing with the idea of a new Westerns Channel bit where you would have a guy, or gal, all dressed up in authentic 1880s garb and, we would walk them around the modern West, asking them questions about their times and ours, comparing notes as it were. This was inspired by a Comedy Central promo for the Adam Corolla Show where a card on the screen says “Adam explains the Special Olympics to 1770s Man.” Cut to Adam walking next to a guy in Revolutionary times garb and the 1770s guy says with some consternation, “And so you race ‘em?” And as they walk off camera, Adam says defensively, “Well, I don’t.” End of bit.

I just love this and think it could have so much more potential. I thought of this as I skimmed the Arizona Republic this morning and saw Jon Talton’s Opinion piece on “Lotteries, Indian Casinos and Online Betting.” I can just see 1880s Man proudly stating that they cleaned up the West and got rid of vice and gambling and wondering how we’re enjoying the bounty from their efforts. Cut to an Indian Casino. “And Indians own these, and you let them?” Oh, the potential for irony!

I also poached this from the editorial pages on the lack of Putin jokes:

“Stalin, Krushchev and Brezhnev are travelling together on a train when suddenly it lurches to a stop. Stalin has the conductor shot. The train doesn’t move. Krushchev rehabilitates the conductor. The train still doesn’t move. Brezhnev closes the curtains and says, “Now, we’re moving.”

“Luck is being ready for the chance.”
—J Frank Dobie, major historian and True West contributor

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006
Just got back from Orme Ranch where my son is a youth counselor and horse wrangler for the summer. It's about 70 miles north on I-17. Big barbecue celebration on the lawn. Hundreds of “campers”, alum and families. Stuart Rosebrook is a head honcho up there (in fact he smoked the beef underground overnight and it was great). Lots of fun seeing my boy in a cowboy hat (one of my larger, straw sugarloaf sombreros). He said he gets lots of comments on it, but it kind of bugs him because everyone wants to touch it (I know!) and they all say, “Why do you wear a hat like that?” And my son asked me, “What do I say to that, Dad?”

And I said, “Tell them you’re a Mexican.”

Another fire east of Sunset Point (not much else to burn up there). Smelled it this morning when I drove Kathy down to Sky Harbor to catch a flight to Puerto Rico. Deena is teaching financial seminars down there this week (in Spanish) and her mom is tagging along. Left the house at five and got back at seven. Worked all morning on the top secret project, story-boarding scene by scene. Kind of exciting.

Yesterday was a record heat day and today is more of the same. I went swimming twice today. Once before I drove up to Orme Ranch and the other right now, between these. . .words. Ahhhh, now that makes it tolerable for about fifteen minutes. I came back in soaking wet and by the time I typed the word "typed", I am completely dry.

I got an Email inquiry a couple weeks ago from Warren “Deadeye” Neff, who has done several acting stints with me on video shoots (the first on 9•11 in Minnesota). He wondered when the Tom Waters—Death Over A Shirt segment of True West Moments was going to run. Warren plays Tom Waters and is a very good drunk and I told him it should be running all this month. I recently Emailed him back and asked him if he has seen it yet, and got this reply:

“Yeah—Have seen it several times! Was a blast. My mother-in-law said she heard it first–was in the kitchen—and knew it was my voice right away! Jeff Hildebrandt [the producer at Starz Encore] sent me a dvd & vhs so my mom can watch! Let me know if you ever need free help again!”
—Warren Neff

And speaking of the September, 2001 video shoots the other guy who helped me so much up there, Rex MacBeth, of Mankato, Minnesota passed away last week. Great guy. Very funny and passionate about the old west. He had been sick for some time.

Bob McCubbin tells me that Rick Baish's cancer is in remission and that is great news. Rick was an original partner when we bought True West magazine back in 1999 and we couldn't have gotten this puppy going again without him.

Going to work tonight on a big severed head scene. Feel rather successful, like I might be arriving at something worthwhile as an artist. Gee, I wonder what Yul Brynner thinks of that?

“On my tombstone I would like to have it written, ‘I have arrived.’ Because when you feel that you have arrived, you are dead.”
—Yul Brynner

Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006
Left Bisbee this morning at ten. Stopped in Tucson at El Minuto for lunch. The top secret writer had a hamburger. I had the green chile burro, enchilada style, plus half a Topopo salad ($26, plus $5 tip biz account).

Now that we are gone I can tell you we stayed at the Canyon Rose Suites in suite #8, and I must say it was a total delight. And if you ever need to get away, hang out, or produce a major screenplay, this is the place to do it. Check it out at:

Or, call them toll free at (866) 296-7673. Tell Wendy I sent you.

Got into Phoenix at two. 115 out, wall to wall traffice all the way in on the 101. Dropped off top secret writer at the Inn Suites on Chaparral and Scottsdale Road.

Pulled into the True West offices at three (240 miles from Bisbee). Caught up on latest issue spreads. Proofed a dozen stories including Henry Beck's big Tombstone piece. Okayed cover: Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell, sorted my mail and filed the new photos I brought home.

Big thunderstorm hit about 4:15, had to run out and put all my bags in the front seat of the Ranger. Still raining (4:40). Power went out at 4:42, I heard several versions of "Shit!" in other offices. Amazingly, my laptop stayed on, even though it's plugged in to wall socket and server. I better post this before it goes out again.

"Post it Man! Post It!"
—Little Voice In Back of Head

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006
Last full day on the super secret project. Went over to Va-Voom yesterday afternoon and bought a bunch of old, original photos from the 1930s, 40s and 50s on cowboys, cowgirls and Arizona life, plus several art books and other reference. Plus a fridge magnet that says, "Therapy has taught me that it's all your fault." What a cool store. Hard to believe it's out here in the middle of the top secret desert. Kelly is the co-owner and she just got back from her honeymoon in New Zealand. Here's her website if you want to take a gander:

Over in Sierra Vista yesterday I also scored some great images. Len Graterri brought me photos of the Medicine Lodge Livery Stable where the cow-boys blasted out of, and interiors of the bank, an actual checkbook from the bank, downtown photos of Caldwell, Kansas, Ben Wheeler's pistol (which Len owns) and the rope used to hang two of the outlaws. My old pal Kevin dropped two snapshots on me of Kingman from the thirties. One is of the Elks Lodge and the other is of the Mohave County Courthouse where my mama worked. Thanks Kevin!

Had a very successful morning, storyboarding and writing scenes with the top secret writer. Got a tad buggy around one, when this top secret writer said, "We're so clever, we're doing a scene within a scene." He said this in a Clem Cadiddle-hopper voice which was a solid clue we needed to break for lunch. Walked up to the Prickly Pear and had a salad and iced tea. Paul, I mean the top secret writer, bought. Then dropped into the museum so the writer could get a book on Apaches. The woman volunteer said, "Hope your writing sessions are going well and you win an Academy Award." File that comment under "small towns are small for a reason" or; so much for the top secret classified blog entries. Ha.

"An active mind is no mind at all."
—Theodore Roethke

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19, 2006
Back to the secret location from Sierra Vista and a big WOLA speech at 4:30 this afternoon. Here's a response:

"I highly enjoyed your comments at the Windemere Hotel, this afternoon. Always informative, always was definitely worth the 1 mile walk from my house to hear you! Now, whether it was worth the 1 mile walk the rain...well...the jury is still out on that one! Just kidding...the walk back was no problemo. Hope you have a safe trip back home, amigo!"
—Chris, Maniac #946

Yes, the top secret writer and I drove back in the rain through Hereford, Tintown, Warren to the top secret location.

Regarding the secret comments from the secret writer yesterday:

"I thought Mickey Spillane died yesterday."
—Fred Nolan

After a lunch today at the Copper Queen I went to the Bisbee historical society and asked them about the Waters Hotel on OK Street. The researcher at first denied that any such hotel with that name existed. "I've never heard of that and I've worked here for a long time." How long ago? Well, try 60 years ago. He looked up the phone directory for 1942 and viola, there it was, the Waters hotel where Dick and Martha Waters met a long time agol. He was shcoked saying he had never heard of this hotel. After a check of 1955 and 1962 it was also styled as the Waters Hotel. I took a picture of it today to send to Charlie Waters, the offspring of the location.

After the speech in Sierra Vista, the secret writer and I had a few cocktails with Doc Holliday scribe, Gary Roberts, Marshall Trimble, Bob McCubbin and his new girlfriend Nadine, who is a total knockout from Maryland.

"It's a new day."
—Al Sieber

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 18, 2006
A high desert rainstorm has just started here at the top secret location. We're on the second floor looking down at a narrow alley. Really a sweet break from the heat.

This morning I drove over to the Texas John Slaughter Ranch, east of Douglas, to introduce Marshall Trimble who was doing a speech on Slaughter for the WOLA (Western Outlaws & Lawmen) confab being held in Sierra Vista. The Slaughter ranch visit was a field trip. Tonight they've got a panel I'm going to sit in on.

Five things the top secret writer said yesterday:

• "I'm chafing Mr. Bell. And I don't like chafing." (said while on a four mile hike down to Warren)

• "I'm beginning to understand why your dogs eat your hats."

• "My wife warned me not to be calling from a Mexican jail. She's afraid I'll fall under the dark influence of BBB."

• "Don't get all historian on me."

• "Your taste in French foo foo coffee, fruit and cabernet wine is not cutting it. Take me to a Circle K so I can get pork rinds, beer and some hostess snowballs for breakfast."

"Self importance is our greatest enemy."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 17, 2006
Travel day yesterday. Picked up top secret writer at Sky Harbor at 11. Stopped in a certain "old pueblo" town and had mole enchiladas at El Charro. Went to Office Max and bought two cork bulletin boards and 3X5 cards and pushpins ($36 biz account). Drove on another 75 miles to the top secret location. Rain near Patagonia and saw virga in San Pedro Valley. Stopped with top secret writer at the scene of the crime. Got to the top secret location at 5:30.

"Please stop this yoga. It hurts to even read about it. Perhaps you could put a warning at the top of your Blog when you feel it's necessary to write about it. You need to remember the old coaches of our era (I'm 58) and do a more manly exercise. Ride your bike with the dogs and let it go at that. Remember, Yoga strips you of your manhood."
—Hugh Howard, Maniac# 9

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting."
—e.e. cummings

Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 16, 2006
Slept in, took the dogs on a bike ride too late. Oppressive heat by seven. Peaches panting and heaving, although not as bad as last night when she gorged on a big, fat frog that jumped out of our pool (where do they come from and how do they grow so big, so fast?). I looked up from my art desk at about nine and here comes Peaches stumbling forward, blind and wheezing, her snout covered in frog blood.

"You little frog killing Bitch!" I said trying to comfort her. I drug her out by the collar to the pool area and fired up the hose and jammed the spray nozzel right up her mouth and pulled the trigger. Of course she liked this about as much as I like the Yoga down dog, but it was for her own good. Needed to get the frog toxins out of her system. I assumed the deal about frogs releasing a deadly toxin when they are attacked and eaten was just a wive's tale, but evidently there is some truth to it. In true dog fashion, fifteen minutes later Peaches is running around looking for another frog to eat.

I hate it when my dogs act just like me.

Yesterday afternoon, Kathy and I went into Cavelview 5 and saw two movies: Strangers With Candy, starring Amy Sadaris, and A Scanner Darkly, starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. Both movies were just okay, about a seven. I especially wanted to see Scanner because it's allegedly this new state-of-the-art animation technology wedded to rotoscoping (which is not new: Disney used it for parts of Lady and the Tramp in the 1940s and it has always been known as animation for cheaters, tantamount to pulling out tracing paper in artclass and saying, "I'm going to draw something original"). Actually, the renderings were for the most part quite inspiring and good, except for the last scene, the money shot, the matt painting that sums up the whole movie. It looks like some gradeschool project with crappy animation (it doesn't look like Reeves, he isn't walking in a corn field, he's floating along like some bad puppet in a bad puppet play, and the mountains and perspective are absolutely juvenile and awful. And it's the last scene! How Richard Linklater, the director and visionary, allowed this or even paid for it is mind boggling to me, unless of course, he drew it, or someone related to him drew it, which is often the case. Embarrassing!

Today I embark on a top secret mission. I am travelling to Sky Harbor to pick up a certain writer in about an hour and we are going to a top secret location to work on a top secret project. I will plant clues right here as we go, but frankly, anyone who has read this blog for more than a week, will easily recognize the writer, where we are going, what we are working on and the likely outcome of the effort. Ha.

"The art of finding out a secret is easy: everyone carrying the secret has one person they can trust."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July 15, 2006
More oppressive heat. I heard in yoga class this morning it was 120 yesterday. I also had a realization in this morning’s class, about my role in life and perhaps my small-town upbringing (or, at least my constant excuses of being raised in Kingman).

First confession: I insist on getting to the damn yoga class early so I can claim a back corner. I don’t want anyone behind me looking at my stiff attempts at actually doing down dog anything.

Second: I hate it that women can bend their bodies into these ridiculous positions, because I’m naturally competitive and hate it when all the women in the class are bending down with their palms flat on the floor and I’m having trouble reaching the top of my socks (knee highs at that). I know, I know, all the yoga instructors say over and over, “Go at your own pace, don’t strain yourself,” but I can’t help it. Too many high school football, basketball and baseball warm-up sessions where the coaches yelled at us, “No pain! No gain!” and “Bell! Get your stomach down. You look like a god-damn pussy!” and “Boze, if you can’t do toe tappers and jumping jacks any better than that, the girl’s softball team is looking for a manager.” Oh, and "Grandma was slow, but she was old."

Hardy har har. Scarred for life? Oh, I think so.

Today, we had a different teacher than normal (family emergency), and the new gal (a blond from Maine with huge breasts) was taking us through some really difficult moves. I’m in the back, retreating into the “Pose of The Child” at the slightest excuse when the Maine-ster says, “Now we are going to try something a little more difficult. Has anyone heard of the Wheel?”

My wife, who is sitting to my left, answers enthusiastically, “Yes, I have always wanted to learn the Wheel. And I intend on doing it before I turn 95!” The whole class laughs and looks at Kathy with some admiration.

This really pisses me off, because, now everyone is looking, and the teacher just might actually come over and attempt to show her the Wheel

The teacher comes over. “Would you like me to help you?”

“Yes, please.” Kathy says without the slightest reservation.

Now the Wheel, for all you males who haven’t caved in yet, is basically a perverted down dog (a “down dog” is achieved by pushing up from the hands and knees position, or doggie style if you want to be crude about it, and, you push up on your fingertips and toes with an arced back), except in the wheel, it’s all inverted. You start on your back then arc up until only your hands and feet are touching the floor, and your backside resembles a wheel, or, at least, the top half of a wheel. I knew I could easily represent the bottom half of the wheel, if it had suddenly gone flat, but I wasn’t about to offer this suggestion, because she might make me show the whole class.

Meanwhile, the whole class watches intently as the teacher puts her feet on either side of Kathy’s head, then reaches over and grabs Kathy’s waist at the same time telling her to grab ahold of her (the Maine-ite’s) ankles. Kathy tries it, struggling at first to get into position. She can’t quite do it, but the class is rooting her on, and finally, with her hips and tummy quivering, she arcs up and holds the pose for five seconds. The class erupts in cheers and clapping.

I didn’t clap because, well, I didn’t want anyone to see me, curled up under the rolled up mats in the corner.

How much of this is a guy thing, I don’t know, but I do know one thing: If I allow this to keep happening, I just may have to turn in my Man Card.

“It was thought effeminate by the Arabs to carry a provision of food for a little journey of one hundred miles.”
—T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), describing a camel journey across the Arabian desert

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14, 2006
Clear skies and fevered thighs. Hot and semi-miserable. I say “semi” because I choose to live here and don’t really have any excuse to complain, although I often walk around mumbling, “Thankyou Thomas Edison for electricity.” Before AC, Arizonans slept outside, or on the roof, and hung wet sheets next to their beds hoping to cop a breeze, which probably cooled the nighttime air to a frigid 99 degrees.

Evidently Pioneertown, California didn’t burn. Here’s a report this morning from Stephen Lodge:
"...everyone is grateful that Mane St. and its historical buildings remain."

And Stephen was also quick to remind me that it was on this date: "In 1881, outlaw William H. Bonney, alias "Billy the Kid," was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, N.M."

America The Chasm of Culture Generalizations Update
“Toby Keith is bellowing in Boston, and my favorite arts blogger Terry Teachout ( is traveling from New York City to Boise to attend the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

“Class and culture generalizations about the US of A—or the world, for that matter—are hard to make. Ever heard of the Finnish honky-tonk band Ranch Riot? They do a mean ‘White Lightning.’

“In the late 1970s, Annie and I were in a bar in Puerto Montt, in southern Chile. A local trio was playing nothing but Norteno music. Norteno in southern Chile is as odd as madrigals in Cave Creek (a gross generalization—for all I know Cave Creek is the fecking madrigal capital of the Western Hemisphere). Anyway, I chatted up the musicians and it turns they learned Norteno from Mexican movies that played there in the 1950s.”
—Dan Buck

That’s enough for this morning. Need to go uptown for the Madrigal Festival.

”If I need any crap from you, I’ll squeeze your head.”
—Mickey Free, to the alcade in Fronteras, Mexico

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006 Bonus Blog
Finished my editorial for the October issue after lunch (mentioined Bob Love, Michael Hickey, Allen Barra, Bob McCubbin, Richard Ignarski, Rod Cook, Harold Love, Phil Spangenberger, Lee Silva and Henry Beck), then concentrated on the James Talbot-Caldwell, Kansas gunfight copy. Emailed Gus Walker the parameters of the map quest, and Robert Ray Emailed him Rod Cook’s Sanborn Special.

Got some good feedback on previous postings, including these gems:

“No small irony here, THE NEW YORKER, the magazine of what you call the ‘urban, mostly coastal (Manhattan and Hollywood) market’ publishes a fascinating, detail-rich, and affirmative feature on the blue-collar comedy industry.

“The only sour note was the ‘poor little me’ undertone in the remarks made by some blue-collar comedy partisans. Jeez, what's all the complaining about; they're are all getting rich. We should all be so victimized. Yes, I get it, feigned antipathy to "hip urbanites" is part of the blue-collar comedy industry shtick. A useful Yiddish word, shtick.

“Second, though I realize -- that is, I hope -- you were being polemical, the idea that there are two major markets in the United States, the urban mostly coastal market, and then everything in between is horse pucky. America is a largely urban country. Ever heard of Chicago, St. Paul-Minneapolis, Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Phoenix, Atlanta—if I keep this list up I'll run out of pixels.

“But it's urban and variegated -- Dame Edna, Toby Keith, River Dance, Jeff Foxworthy, Bernie Mack, Merle Haggard, Richard III (the drama, not the king -- he's dead), Chicago (the musical, not the city), play all over the country. Marty Stuart's recent concert in New York City rocked, and got a warm review in the NEW YORK TIMES.

“Here's a perfect example of the world out there: The Belfast-born Van Morrison's ‘Pay the Devil’ tour is working its way around the globe, literally. Among the shows, past and future: the Ryman in Nashville, Jones Beach outside New York City, Austin, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, Phoenix, London, Rotterdam, and Vienna. And what is he crooning? Webb Pierce, Hank Williams, Connie Smith, Chuck Willis, George Jones, Blue Lu Barker, and Patsy Cline.”
—Dan Buck, Washington DC

And by the way, for all of you who don’t know what “polemical” means (that would include me), here is the def: “an aggressive attack or refutation of the opinions or principals of others.”

Hell, yes! That's exactly what I was doing. And then some.

[Regarding yesterday’s Pioneertown entry] “Expertise is knowing where to look it up. (This is why my heroes have always been research librarians.)"

“And hey, that [Eric Clapton] joke offends me. Coffee is great without cream.”
—Emma Bull

“This was not the first time my name has appeared in the same space with Jeb Rosebrook's. His Junior Bonner, and Steve Ihnat's and my, The Honkers, were released at the same time in 1972; as was Cliff Robertson's J.W. Coop. Three movies with a rodeo theme, playing in theaters in the same time-span. All three pictures had very good depictions of modern-day cowboys. I still think it was a mistake to put them out at the same time. Sometimes Hollywood decision makers make wrong decisions.”
—Stephen Lodge

”Frustration is the difference between what you are and what you think you are.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
July 13, 2006
Spent most of yesterday digesting a big packet of materials from Rod Cook in Caldwell, Kansas. I’m doing the Talbot Gang shootout when some cow-boys fought the entire town in December of 1881. Rod has spent most of his adult life researching the fight and his map is absolutely essential to understanding the fight. Rod took an 1885 Sanborn Insurance map, then backdated it to 1881, taking out the later buildings and identifying the older ones from ads and mentions in the newspapers. Very painstaking work, but essential for our purposes, and by our purposes I mean Gus Walker, and the map he will do tracking the combatants.

Google (and Meghan) Make Me Look Good
At about 10:30 yesterday morning I got a call from a newsman from KFI radio in LA. He wanted to interview someone about the Pioneertown movie ranch that was in danger of being burned out in a big fire north of Palm Springs. I asked the reporter how much time I had and he said "fifteen minutes to airtime."

My screenwriter friend Stephen Lodge (The Honkers) had just Emailed me the news report earlier in the morning, but when I went back and opened his Email I couldn’t get the link to work on my laptop and when I clicked on his publisher link and phoned the number on the website, I got a recording. There went seven minutes.

So I quickly deferred to our Google expert, Meghan Sarr, and told her what I needed and she instantly got on Google and within five minutes had the entire history of Pioneertown and the filmography on my desk.

Several minutes later, Carole buzzed me and said a Steve Gregory from KFI radio is on the line, I took the call and he turned on the tape recorder and I sounded like a veritable expert on Pioneertown, California. “Yes, Steve, many of the classic old tv Westerns were filmed at Pioneertown. Stalwart shows like The Cisco Kid, Annie Oakley, Cowboy G-Men, Buffalo Bill Junior, The Adventures of Judge Roy Bean were filmed at Pioneertown. You may not recognize the name of the town but if you saw clips of these classic shows you’d go, 'Oh, that town!'”

“It was founded in 1946 as a working town, with a restaurant and bowling alley for use by film crews when they weren’t filming. Some of the stars who graced Pioneertown’s streets were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck, Dick Jones and Barry Sullivan. Yes, it will be a tragic loss if this wonderful piece of history is consumed by the, blah, blah, blah. . . .”

According to Steve, the report was going to run on 1,200 stations nationwide yesterday. You can allegedly find the interview at:

Painful admission:
Although I was married at Pioneer Village, Arizona—prior to yesterday, I had never heard of Pioneertown, California.

News From The Front Lines (Speaking of Screenwriters):
“The September True West is one of the best issues you've produced. The western art section is wonderful—I am wondering if anyone collects Fred Harman—he became quite a successful western artist after his Red Ryder comic strip days.”
—Jeb Rosebrook, screenwriter (Junior Bonner)

Q:What do Eric Clapton and coffee have in common?

A: Both suck without cream.

”Do a little more every day than you are expected to do, and soon enough you will be expected to do more.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

July 12, 2006 Bonus Blog
A real Arizona scorcher. It supposedly hit 109 this afternoon. Came home at 5:30, stripped off and swam laps, then came straight out to the studio dripping wet, wearing only a towel. Started a sunset watercolor of Ratcliff Ridge, but soon heard my wife’s car pull in the Spanish driveway. “Hmmmm,” I thought. “I wonder why she’s home so early?” Within moments, the door to the studio opened and I heard these words, “Hey, could you come hold me down?”

Now, I don’t care what coast you live on, or what God you pray to, that’s hot. Turns out Kathy bought a new drain lid and wanted me to hold her underwater so she could screw it in. Of course, the object being, holding a big, blond down and screwing (with a Philips), I naturally jumped right in

After the fifteenth plunge (or was it 150?) I told her we could do this professonally as the Synchronized Pile Driving Partners. Of course, the lid didn’t fit and she has to take it back. But, oh, the memories we’ll have forever!

"Knocking me out with those American thighs!"

Speaking of Christians, I got this snippy message today:

“Stop giving religious nuts a forum on your blog!”
—Squibe Nish

Back lions, back! Let the Christians have their say:

“I am a Bible believing Christian (pity I have to write that) and also think LIFE OF BRIAN is hysterical. I take my Faith seriously, just not myself.

“In our modern world we can evangelize and proselytize about restaurants, movies, television, books, magazines, favorite TW moments, etc. But "Heaven" forbid we ever discuss eternity, with anyone we care about. Remember, nobody gets out of here alive. When this insanity is over, something else begins.

“God bless your mother, Bob, and tell her she did a fine job rearing you. You represent many Christ-like qualities.”

“Dear B. Blessed,
I am a Christian, and though I've not seen Empire Falls, I find the things you describe not offending to me. Rather it's thought provoking concerning parts of history that I believe probably have some validity....."we" took away a people's right to their own spiritual beliefs (along with their whole way of life) under the guise of saving their souls (while taking their land) and threw in measles and small pox as a bonus. At least the ones who tried to "save" them did; the others just did it the American way.... kill 'em. But the commentary ‘Christianity and other European diseases’ isn't slamming my faith, it's hitting at somebody else's misplaced social program hiding behind the name of Christ. Shame on them, but not on Chris....or me! You see there are Christians, and there are Christians. Are now and always have been. For instance I am a liberal Christian. Actually a moderate Christian but I find the Christian Right so upsetting that I keep moving further to the left. They really are putting the rest of us in a bad position.

“And I find all this Christian goody-goody better-than-thou notion to be very counter to MY faith. My faith is that God loves me unconditionally, regardless of what sins I have done, am doing or will do. And once a person knows and accepts that, it takes a load off. Oppressive,no.....liberating, yes. And surprisingly, it frees a person do ‘do better’ more easily because the pressure is off...I can but I don't have to. But it doesn't make me better than any other of God's children, whether they know they are God's child or not. (And that includes you, B.) So to get back to the comments about Christianity, they're talking about history of man, not about my God.... and it's okay.”
—Sharon Tally

”Wait for that wisest of counselors, Time.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
July 12, 2006
There is a brilliant piece in the latest New Yorker about Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, and The Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys and the pit bull agent who manages them. The title of the piece is "Blue-Collar Gold" (sub-hed: "Comedy between the coasts") and in the article it talks at length about the zero respect these guys get in Hollywood and the "industry." For example, "Blue Comedy Comedy Tour: The Movie" was tepidly released in 2003 and the studio had no faith in it, gave it no budget to promote, and it barely took in $600,000 in theatres. When it was released in DVD it grossed $38 million dollars!

"People [in Hollywood] act like you're not even in show business," says Bernie Brillstein, who conceived the tv show "Hee Haw", which ran for 24 years. The article goes on to say “Studios see themselves as the pinnacle of America's entertainment pyramid, a cut above television, two cuts above music, and six cuts above touring Blue Collar comedians and mimes.”

Here's the president of of digital entertainment at Paramount: "It's so unsexy, so low-end hillbilly shit—but it makes so much money!"

So who's the mastermind behind this phenom? One bulldog manager named J.P. Williams, one rich comedian-trucker. His core principals?

Clean it up: No dirty jokes. "It's not about censoring the artist: The whole art of comedy is doing a pussy joke without ever using the word 'pussy.'"

Scrub it again: groom the profanity from your act. Wall-Mart won't sell product with a parental-advisory sticker.

Work the hook: catchphrases: Larry the Cable Guy's "Git-R-Done" and Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be A Redneck" and Bill Engvall's "Here's Your Sign" catch phrases grace license plate holders, cell-phone wallpaper, camo hats, greeting cards and slot machines. Last year, Larry the Cable Guy sold $7 million dollars' worth of novelty merch in convenience stores alone.

And what do the agents in Hollywood say about these cats? "[Williams and crew] just tapped into this huge audience of one hundred thousand people filling the Astrodome to see Billy Graham, and none of us Jews here know who the fuck they are or what the fuck they're thinking."

And these same guys view Mel Gibson’s $600 million dollar take on “Passion of the Christ” as an anomaly. Ha.

What I glean from this is there's basically two major markets in the U.S. The urban, mostly coastal (Manhattan and Hollywood) market, and then there is that vast space in between, derisively referred to as “the flyover crowd” by the minions of media types flying back and forth, “taking meetings.” In fact, Jeff Foxworthy came up with the Blue Collar tour concept after reading an article about “The Kings of Comedy” a group of black comedians who toured the country in 1997 and it ended up in a movie by the same name, filmed by Spike Lee, which grossed $37 million. The article went on to say that the Kings appealed to “hip urbanites,” and Jeff said to his manager, “That’s leaving a lot of people out.”

"If you're a man and you've been antique shopping during a big football game, you're either gay—or married."
—Jeff Foxworthy

This just in:

Road Report
“Hedy and I just came back from Three Trips. One to Kennebunkport Maine. One in Jackson Hole Wyoming and one to Indianapolis.

“In all three we looked for True West and here is our report. We saw TW in Portland Maine—in a grocery store. I saw TW three times in Wyoming—drug and grocery stores. No visible sign of TW in Indianapolis. In all instances I moved TW to the front most position on the rack.
—Allen Fossenkemper

”Country and blue collar is where the money is.”
—Bernie Brillstein

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

July 11, 2006 Bonus Blog
I’ve received some interesting feedback from my July 9 posting on Empire Falls. Here’s my favorite:

“Bob... please...One little low-rated television show opening is deserving of starting a political war against non-Christians? God (ahem) forbid we don't all walk lock-step with the religious Right, lest we offend their delicate sensibilities. Christianity dominates our culture and politics more than anything save capitalism, and even there the two fiercely compete (think ‘Christmas,’ source of another phony ‘war.’)

“Not a Christian? You'll never get elected, you're only one step above the homeless boyfriend with the in-laws, and every major event in your life (weddings and funerals) you'll wonder ‘who scheduled a revival meetin'?’

“My guess is you don't blink an eye when good-hearted folks tell you with a straight face they'll be praying for your soul, because you're such a great guy and it would be sad to see your damned soul burn in fiery Hell for all eternity, all due to your ignorant lack of understanding that without Him your ass is sin-flavored barbeque. Probably even genuinely smile. So when someone actually has the balls to poke fun the other way, I think the beleaguered Christian way of life might just be strong enough to take it.”
—Dale (non-theist) in Mesa

Yes, it’s true, I’ll never get elected—thank God! (Get it?), and yes, my in-laws already think of me as one step above homeless (I’m a publisher!) and, yes, the last funeral I went to was quite oppressive in a Baptist kind of way. And yes, I don’t blink an eye when my mother prays for me, although she has never used the “sin-flavored barbeque” metaphor. That said, I love humor and humor in religion. Do you know why Baptists don't believe in pre-marital sex? They're afraid it might lead to dancing. I believe the Danish Muslim cartoons should be required reading in the Middle East, I love Amy Silverman's take on her mixed relationship with Jimmy Kimmel (Catholic): "I'll just tell our kids Mommie's one of the Chosen People and daddy believes Jesus is magic." And I love George Carlin's stuff on religion (“Save the car fare, you’ve already sinned!”) What I don't like, is trash talking revisionist history-garbling screenwriters who malign our rich heritage and pass it off as real history. And it's so one sided. Imagine if the writer of Empire Falls had slammed Judaism (“and other diseases from the Middle East”? Paleeze!) or Allah forbid, you know who, the guy would never land another gig in mainstream media. I'm just commenting on how everyone beats up on Christians for organizing and trying to defend themselves like it's some scary plot to take over the world, when it's really people of faith banding together. That's all.
—Bob Blessed Bell

"God's humor is too rough for human ears."
—Old Vaquero Saying
July 11, 2006
Kathy drug me to a early morning pre-work yoga class ?this morning (actually, she left early for an exercise class, told me she would be saving a "spot" for me, which tapped into my Lutheran guilt and forced me to show up, against my will). Several women in the class said they enjoyed having me there so I guess I'll go back and be healthy in spite of myself. Went at the last second and didn't bring a change of clothes, so here I sit at work in my yoga shorts and a t-shirt, and a Route 66 ball-cap, thus breaking my months-long string of wearing matching Wrangler ensembles complete with flashy Jane Bischof procureded neck-ties, or scarves, if you want to get all gay about it.

Here's another take on the number of Tombstone viewings:

"Your question on the number of times we've seen Tombstone (and/or Wyatt Earp) is discriminatory, defamatory, and insulting to a significant number of us: the math challenged. We are unable to count any higher than the number of fingers and toes attached to our bodies. Even then we make mistakes.

"We poor saps watch these shows over and over and over again without making a black mark on a piece of paper, indicating yet another complete viewing. And that doesn't even count the number of times we've turned on the telly just in time to catch the second half of the movie. Or the last third. Or to hear Robert Mitchum say, 'Tom Mix wept.' Or any fraction thereof.

"So unless you'd like the ACLU to come sweeping down on you like a bunch of Cowboys overrunning a Mexican wedding, you'd best give us the respect we're due. We, the math challenged of the West, will not be ignored! We will be heard! We will be counted!

"Doo-dah. Doo-dah.

"But back to your question--I've got...let's see....uh...ten fingers. And...uh...ten toes. So I know I've seen Tombstone 20 times. Same for Wyatt Earp. Same for Ft. Apache. Same for Gunfight at the OK Corral. Same for Shane. Same for Pale Rider. Same for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Same for the Wild Bunch. Same for...oh, hell, a lotta Westerns.

"Lord save me."
—Mark Boardman

"Nothing is worse than active ignorance."

Monday, July 10, 2006

July 10, 2006 Bonus, Bonus Blog
And the Tombstone Testimonials just keep on comin' in (answering the burning question, How many times have you seen Tombstone?):

"I saw the film 25 times in the theater between Christmas 1993 and June 1994, though I have to admit that the last 3 times were at a dollar theater. Otherwise I paid full evening prices many times. Not a perfect picture, but always interesting. Val was robbed of a nomination, at the least."
—Paul Cool

"I've only seen Tombstone about 100 times and Wyatt Earp around 75 times."
—Scott Bell

"To paraphrase Napoleon Dynamite: 'Like, infinity.'"
—Alan Huffines

"I reckon I have seen it in the neighborhood of 200 times—could be more, though, as I sorta lost count around 150 a few years back. But, that isn't my Western movie viewing record. That honor (?) goes to FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE which I have seen 252 times! Just as an aside. I have seen Costner & Kasdan's WYATT EARP 1.5 times. I sat down to watch it a second time just to give it another chance (didn't care for it the first time I saw it in the theatre)—but, I wound up falling asleep."
—Chris Casey, Maniac $946

"In vino veritas."
—Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) spouting Latin—"In wine there is truth"—to Johnny Ringo
July 10, 2006 Bonus Blog
Buena Vista (Disney), the company that owns Tombstone had better listen up. You need to team up with Kurt Russell, take all of his extra footage, go back to the original script by Kevin Jarre and re-edit the movie for DVD release. Why? Read on:

"I would just like to respond to your question of how many times I have seen Tombstone. I have seen Tombstone, since seeing it the first time in 1993, a grand total of 70 times. (I've also watched Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday's Latin language word duel a total of 87 times, just because I think it's the coolest part of the movie.)"

—Taylor Hensel, 15

—Homer Simpson to Disney execs who wondered out loud in a meeting whether to re-edit and re-release the movie
July 10, 2006
And you thought I was joking (see yesterday's comments):

"I've seen Tombstone about 250 times including twice on the big screen when it first came out. I've been an Old West fanatic since the 60's when I watched Roy Rogers on Saturday mornings but I'm stunned how many people became 'Maniacs' after seeing this movie. As it's been said before it really raised the bar for authenticity. Every time I watch it I feel like I'm in a time machine and get to watch the actual events as they unfold (even though I know the film is not 100% accurate). It just looks like Tombstone should have looked in the 1880s. I, and a lot of other people I'm sure, would be overwhelmed to see a DVD of deleted/unreleased footage. Which would make another DVD I'd watch hundreds of times!

—Mark Kilburn, TW Maniac235, SASS 11889

"You're a daisy if you do!"
—Doc Holliday to Frank McLaury behind the O.K. Corral

Sunday, July 09, 2006

July 9, 2006 Bonus Blog
Henry Beck is finishing up his Tombstone Bombshell article this weekend, and on Friday, when he met with Meghan and I, we got to comparing notes on just how influential the move Tombstone has been to a new generation of fans. I told them the story about being at a book signing for my new Wyatt Earp book in January of 1994 (the movie came out in December of 1993) and I encountered a guy in line with his young son. The dad was standing behind the son, and the dad had his hands on the kid's shoulders. I looked at the dad and said, "How would you like it signed?" and he said, "It's not for me, it's for my son here." I looked at the kid, who must have been about ten and said, "Really? You're interested in a history book about Wyatt Earp? Why?"

The kid beamed and said one word: "Tombstone!"

I was floored. Up to that moment, all my book buyers had been Baby Boomers and older. This was the first kid I ever enountered at one of my book signings. And he wasn't the last. There were at least three or four other kids in line behind the first one, and as they came up I said, "Have you seen Tombstone?" And they all nodded enthusiastically.

This quickly became a standard opener for me. "Okay," I'd say as they came forward, "How many times have you seen Tombstone?" And the answers were stunning: "Twenty five times!" "I watched it just before I came here today." "My dad and I have seen it 255 times." "My dad puts the movie on random scenes and I watch it every night before I go to sleep." (The all time champ, of course, is Cowboy Dan, who had seen the film some 5,000 times, and this was in 2003!).

So our new poll is of major interest to me. Have you seen Tombstone? And more importantly, Email me above and tell me how many times you've seen it.

"I'm feeling just Capital!"
—Curly Bill (Powers Booth), in Tombstone
July 9, 2006
I made a batch of homemade pinto beans last night, utilizing my mother’s ranch house recipe: soak pintos overnight (remove pebbles first), throw into a large kettle, along with one ham hock and two bay leaves; boil hard for two hours, take off burner and let it steep for an hour, then bring to a boil once again and turn down heat to a simmer, and let it coagulate all night. Made huevos rancheros this morning to go with the beans, complete with homemade guac salsa, cilantro garnish, grated Tilamook sharp cheddar cheese flour tortillas and dark, rich coffee. Very nice Sunday brunch for me and my honey.

About a month ago, Kathy asked me if I wanted to watch Empire Falls, a tv show she had taped and was watching. I had seen the promos and knew it had great actors in it (Ed Harris and Paul Newman), and when I wavered, she told me it had an Old West photo style opening, so I thought I’d sit down and give it a try. Sure enough it opened with early-1900s-sepia style photos with voice over narration along these lines: “In the beginning Native Americans were the stewards of the land around Empire Falls.” As the narration continued, animated, hand-drawn, red Xs appeared over the indigenous faces. “But these original stewards were displaced as they began to suffer from warfare, rum, Christianity, and other European diseases. . .” Next it showed loggers, straddling floating logs in a river and instead of Xs, now we get hand drawn red circles around the men’s faces (all anglos of course), and the narrator informs us, matter of factly, that these evil invaders raped the land. I gave the show another fifteen minutes to be fair, but I just couldn’t get past that opening. I stood up to leave. I knew Kathy was disappointed, but I told her I wouldn’t be watching the show. She wanted to know why, and when I told her my reasons, she thought I had misheard, so she rewound the tape and we watched it again. “Christianity, and other European diseases. . .” Nope, I heard right, and it sounded worse the second time around.

I’m not even a Christian and I’m offended. And these effete assholes wonder why Christians have banded together to produce their own movies, magazines and to support political causes that agree with them. How could they not?

”A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.”
—Emo Philips

Saturday, July 08, 2006

July 8, 2006
Another hot one on the Sonoran Desert. Sun just going down. big clouds all day but nothing came of it. Swam 12 passes about an hour ago.

Worked all day on Tales From the Triple B stories. Had a long conversation with Paul Hutton about one of the ideas. We are scheming on a graphic novel and it could be good. Paul also told me one of the most prolific and historically correct cartoonists died two weeks ago. He specialized in strips on Texas history. Allegedly a suicide. Too sad. More later when I confirm the details.

Kathy drug me to yoga this morning. Oh how I hate the down dog deal, but I'm so damn tight, it can't be anything but good for my body. Just don't tell anyone. It's not good for my image. Ha.

Went to dinner last night at Claim Jumper down in Scottsdale. Russ and Wendy Shaw treated for Kathy's belated birthday. I wanted a steak, but had a caesar salad. I know, wimpy stuff, but I got contemporaries dropping like flies all around me.

A glass of red wine most nights, tomato juice every morning. Fish, chicken, salads and exercise. Some cowboy cartoonist, eh?

Did four cloud painting studies, one right out of my studio window. Really dramatic thunderheads with great lighting poking through. The problem with drawing and painting clouds is everyone wants to illustrate them side by side, but the critical detail is portraying them IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER, because they stack up and push in front of and behind each other and that's not easy to do. It's a very subtle, but dramatic dance. About the only guy I know who really gets this is Ed Mell.

"Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design, is often to ruin it."
—MIguel de Cervantes

Friday, July 07, 2006

July 7, 2006
More clouds and wind, but little moisture. The hostess at Rancho Manana said they got some sprinkles around ten but we didn’t get any that I know of at the office.

Treated Sue Lambert and Abby Pearson to lunch at Tonto Bar & Grill at 11:30. Hard to believe, Sue has been with True West for four years and Abby for five. Good, solid workers, both of them and I told them how much I appreciated all of their efforts to make True West the best possible magazine in the West. All three of us had the half Cowboy Cobb Salad.

After lunch I came home and rooted through my morgue for the Tombstone set photos I took when I visited the movie set back in 1993. Finally found them (all 8) and took a good hard look at them. I spotted Buck Taylor (who I didn't know then), Kurt Russell and another one of the Vendetta posse members setting up for the scene that allegedly got Kevin Jarre fired.

I also found a good photo of Sugarloaf Butte just north of my house. I'm going to use it in the next issue of the Cowboy Chronicle, where I'm doing an illustrated piece on the return of the Sugarloaf Hatstyle, and I noticed on my trip to New Mexico, not one, but two different peaks along the highway also named Sugarloaf. Turns out there are Sugarloaf peaks all over the world, including the famous Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, and Sugarloaf hills in Wales, Ireland, Maine, Florida, Michigan (Michigan!) and elsewhere. Google listed 350,000 hits. I have always assumed the sugarloaf hatstyle was created in Mexico because the tall crown sombreros like Pancho Villa wore, is where I became familiar with the hatstyle. Then when I read that Billy the Kid wore sombreros he bought that came up the trail from Chihuahua, I really became interested in them.

Turns out the sugarloaf hatstyle goes back to the 1450s! I'll tell more about the history in the article but that was fun finding out all of that (Meghan did the Google search and found all the stuff for me).

Before I came home tonight I made an overture to make up with one of my Old West friends who I have been estranged from for several years. Felt good to make the first move. Didn’t want to (foolish pride) but ultimately remembered Marcus Antonius’s cogent remarks on the subject.

”Consider how much more you suffer from your anger and grief than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.”
—Marcus Antonius

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 6, 2006
More big clouds, but no rain. Dave and Doreen Daiss came up from their Sonoita ranch today and said they have been getting much needed rain (several nights in a row). It’s an early monsoon season, Doreen told me.

Saw one of our last classic signpainters, Alan Scott, parked down by the old school at lunch time. Pulled off the road and told him we still want the new sign outside (“True West World Headquarters”), but we’re having a disagreement about who pays for it. Ha. I assured him we would still do it, probably in late fall.

Starting work on the gunfights of Caldwell, Kansas for the October issue. Rod Cook is helping me. Henry Beck is on the home stretch on his story regarding who actually directed the movie Tombstone. He, Meghan and I are meeting in the morning to discuss it. Meanwhile, Robert Ray has laid in a schematic the available gunfights and we have approximately 110 pages in the can for Volume III of Classic Gunfights. This one includes Custer, Davy Crockett and Butch and Sundance’s last holdup in Bolivia. Received a blessing from Dan Buck to run it. Virtually all of the images, research and information is from him and Ann Meadows. I went back and read it and it is quite thorough and impressive. Great job Ann and Dan! And thanks.

Kathy and I finally started watching the new season of Deadwood (stored on the Dish memory banks) and I must say, how can they get away with libeling George Hearst like they are doing? I mean, they are portraying Hearst as being worse than Swearingen (also a real guy but with smaller pocketed descendants I assume). Of course, George was a tough guy, but I never got the impression he was the Charlie Manson of the Old West. And if he was my great-grand-daddy I would be mighty pissed (and more importantly, I would have a much larger circulation on True West). I really don’t like the show as much as Kathy does (hard to believe, it being a Western and all). I think it’s because I can’t get past the lame stuff. It may be great writing, but it isn’t a great Western. It just looks wrong and sounds wrong so much of the time. I know, I know, David Milch is a genius. Well, let him write his surfer show. A Western Man don’t need him around anyhow.

I’m taking the doctor’s advice (less blogging, more jogging) and swam 12 laps, ran out to my car, and ran to bed, and went on two bike rides, all the while imagining my cholesterol plummeting like Ken Lay’s actuary table.

”A Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow.”
—Lynard Skinner, responding to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5, 2006
Woke up to an overcast sky and Arizona’s notorious six-inch rain—one drop every six inches. Worked its way up to a sprinkle by about nine, but nothing more.

An esteemed Old West author wants me to illustrate his forthcoming book on the El Paso Salt Wars. At the end of his request, he wrote this:

"Oh, I read your blog. Since ADD has complicated my own life, I had occasion to read up on it about 15 years ago. The very good news is that ADD really does help creativity. (Probably why I am creating this note instead of attending to dull work.)"

I just got a clean bill of health from my physical checkup last week. The only blip on my bloodwork is my cholesterol (which is at 157, and should be below 100). He suggested more exercise and less blog writing.

People often ask me what it’s like to be married to a therapist and I tell them it saves me a ton of money. For one thing, I’ll sometimes come home from work in a sour mood, down on myself and I’ll say, “Tell me about one of your clients.” And Kathy will say, “I’ve got this one young guy who is 27, has made millions from stock manipulations, owns a Ferrari, has models and famous actresses throwing themselves at him and he can’t get an erection.”

Yesssss! This never fails to perk me right up. And it's free!

I had fun talking to Trish and Bob Brink this morning about “The Devil Wears Prada,” and the editor it is based on, Anna Wintour of Vogue. Trish, who actually worked for Ms. Wintour, said she really isn’t at all like the Meryl Streep character in the movie, but she added, “They did get quite a few things right, like the egos and the shoes.” Ha.

”It isn't hard to be good from time to time. What's tough is being good every day.”
—Willie Mays

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, 2006 Bonus Blog
Trish Brink informs me we posted a nifty new image Daniel Harshberger made for our new sub offer yesterday. Since this is a special subscription rate I want to give it a nice big plug in the blog. It's two years for the price of one. Makes a great gift by the way. Click right here to see it.

More Sci-Fi Meets Western Nominations
• Wyatt Came From Outerspace

• Roman Doc Holliday

• Two Men And A Baby Faced Nelson (oops, wrong period!)
—Larry Allen, Columbia, Missouri

Some have indicated that I must have made up the story regarding my “family friendly” speech fees (see July 2). Well, for all you doubters, here’s the actual Email exchange:

“I am currently researching possible entertainment for a corporate event.  My client has specifically asked if you are available for his group.  Do you speak for corporate groups?  My client is looking for a 40-60 minute performance that is family friendly for a program in Phoenix in June of 2007 with approximately 400 guests.  If you are available to corporate groups how much would you charge?”
—R.C., Destination Management

“Yes, as of right now I have that time open but it usually fills up fast. I charge $1,000 for my family friendly programs ($1,500 if it's not family friendly). Thanks.

Frankly, it's too weird not to be true!

”Before someone will accept your criticism, you need to acknowledge their strengths.”
—David Rabner
July 4, 2006
Early on, a French philosopher made a prediction about our country: "A new Greece will perhaps give birth on the continent to new Homers." Of course, it came true, and we are today known worldwide as a nation of Homer Simpsons.

Enjoyed a wonderful day at home yesterday, painting, writing and seeking. Plenty of discoveries, both at the end of a brush, and in the “swirling” piles of my “stuff.”

Did my six sketches early (1,508 total, without missing a day), then started three big gouaches inspired by recent efforts where I hold back and only hint at form and detail. Late in the day I nailed a painting, “Reap The Whirlwind,” that will be one of the opening scenes in my proposed Tales From The Triple B graphic novel series. A huge weather front, lifted from a National Geographic issue on tornadoes, is bearing down on the silhouette of a young boy, who stands innocently, looking up at the windy, metaphoric approach of death and destruction. The accompanying text will read:

“When he was just a boy, he started a war; the longest in the history of the United States.”

Kathy and I have been catching up on movies. Saw A Prairie Home Companion on Friday, then caught The Devil Wears Prada, on Saturday down at Desert Ridge. Liked them both. (paid $18 for tickets— $9 each!— and $11 for a medium popcorn and a small bottle of water.) The Brinks are going to see Prada this weekend and I’m anxious to talk to them because they know the Vogue editor that the Meryl Streep character is based on.

On Wednesday night, I think it was, I stumbled across Lawrence of Arabia on Turner Classic Movies. I’m half-embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen it. What an epic sweep! I remember all the hoopla in 1962, the sweep at the Academy Awards and even an old Merv Griffin or Dick Cavett where Omar Sharif sheepishly admitted a stuntman was riding the camel in the famous water hole shooting scene that introduced his character.

I was struck at how much of a Western it is, or at least it had the components and feel of a Western. And I really loved the Bedouin character played by Anthony Quinn. And there is a photo of the actual guy, Sherif Nasir, in the magazine I bought, see below, and he looks like Anthony Quinn!. We recorded the movie and watched it in installments over three different nights, finally seeing the ending on Saturday night.

On Saturday, I bought a magazine (MHQ: the Qaurterly Journal of Military History, $9.99) at Barnes & Noble that features T.E. Lawrence on the cover. Turns out the real Lawrence of Arabia was an avid photographer (and writer!) and took photos on his Arab campaigns.

While watching the film in three easy installments (oh, it’s nice to have Tivo capabilities on Dish!) Kathy asked where they were geography wise (the Arab army was going the back way to Akaba on the coast of somewhere). I didn’t know and made a vow to get a book on the real Lawrence and even clipped an ad in the back of the magazine that was advertising one.

Lawrence of Arabia: The Life, The Legend, $39.95. Check it out at:

Then, yesterday while sorting through a pile of books in the breezeway that I intended to give to the local library, I did a doubletake: one of the books I was casually going to give away was “Revolt In The Desert,” by T.E. Lawrence. Could it be? Yes, it was! What are the odds? If I saw it in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.

And, in the back, it has a beautiful, fold-out map of all the Arab campaigns Lawrence fought in. Akaba is at the end of a long inlet in the Red Sea, east of Cairo and south of Damascus (yes, I am obsessed with knowing where things are, and this is why we always have good maps in True West). Amazing. I had the book all along (the original 1927 edition), and it appears the movie follows this book almost to the paragraph.

Speaking of Movies. . .
It seems to me, so many movie plots today are hackneyed and lame. Take this description of Nacho Libre in The New Yorker: “Jared Hess (‘Napoleon Dynamite’) directed this comedy, about a cook (Jack Black) who takes up Mexican freestyle wrestling to save an orphanage.” Sounds like a 1920s plot, or, something out of an Andy Hardy movie.

Now, check out these two new movies, both foreign, also listed in the New Yorker, right after Nacho Libre:

“Only Human: A comedy from Spain, about a Jewish woman who does not tell her family that her fiance is Palestinian.” (granted it could be argued this is only a twist on Romeo and Juliet, but, still, at least it’s edgy). But, here’s my favorite:

“Uncut: A man with a fractured pelvis, naked and confined to bed, attempts to seduce women.”

I’m there! Now that’s something fresh and new and today! Somehow this kind of thinking has to be injected into Westerns. And if you look at the genre from this direction, it helps explain the critical success of Brokeback Mountain and Deadwood.

“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.”
—Elizabeth David

Monday, July 03, 2006

July 3, 2006
The Straterra (ADD med) makes me feel too amped and outside myself. I was supposed to increase my dosage to 40 mg on Saturday, but 25 mg seemed plenty intense for me. As for friendly feedback (requested last week), here’s a typical reply:

“Your blog now seems much more focused . . . but also, unbelievably, even more self-absorbed.”
—Charlie Waters

Tomcat Bell and three of his fellow camp counselors from Orme Ranch came down on Saturday night and spent the night with us. I made them pancakes yesterday morning and we sat around the kitchen table and read the Straterra “Adverse Events” disclaimer. You know, that long scroll of fine print that comes wadded up inside the capsule box that nobody ever reads except the lawyers who wrote it and the lawyers looking for a payday.

Kathy started it all by casually remarking, “Did you know your father is on drugs?” Since T. Charles and his fellow camp counselors are all Psych majors they wanted to know about what I am taking, and this led to reading out loud the “Common Treatment-Emergency Adverse Events Associated with the use of STRATTERA in Acute (up to 9 weeks) Child and Adolescent Trials” table. A graph on the backside compares 340 participants who actually took Strattera with 207 participants who thought they were taking Stattera but were actually taking a placebo. As Kathy began reading these we howled with laughter at the absurdity of the human mind.

• 20 of those who took Strattera reported abdominal pain, while 16 of the placebo crowd had the same reaction.

• 11 Strattera takers experienced vomiting and so did 9 of the placebo takers

• 27 of the Strattera ingesters got a headache, while, not to be outdone, so did 25 of the placebo crowd.

• Only one of the Strattera fraternity got dry mouth, but two of the placebo takers reported dry mouth.

• Three of the Strattera patients got influenza and so did one of the placebo drug addicts.

Someone actually got the flu from taking something that has nothing in it! Oh, what a lunatic world.

I stopped taking the Strattera yesterday. Better to be swirling than to be high on swirling.

”Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
—Chief Dan George in the movie Little Big Man

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 2, 2006
Hot and muggy out. Got another bird in the studio. Happened this morning while I took the dogs for a bike ride. Came back and Peaches ran right up into the loft. I knew immediately what it was and went and got the pool skimmer. Shooed the bird down into the lower studio, then closed the middle door when the bird flew straight into the north window. Peaches and I have an unspoken agreement. We both herd the bird, me pushing towards an open door, Peaches towards her open mouth. Whoever gets to the bird first, wins. Usually the bird will get panicky and fly low to get around me and Peaches will snag the line drive off the wall with all the skill of an American League outfielder. Today, I got the out. I was able to grab the bird against the window screen, run it over to the door and set it free. Peaches was quite miffed and gave me that “play me, or trade me” look.

File This One Under:
a. Show Biz 101?
b. It’s the sizzle, not the steak, stupid?
c. Human Nature vs. Shuman Schmaister?
d. All of the above?

Last week I got an Email from a company rep back east that is coming out to Scottsdale next summer and wants a speaker. They heard about me and wanted to know what I would charge for a “family friendly speech”.

I Emailed the rep back and said I was available and my fee for a “family friendly speech” is $1,000, and that my “mature audience speech” is $1,500. I was being funny (or, so I thought). Normally, I contract in the zero to $500 range (and all points in between), but my good friend Marshall Trimble consistently gets $1,000 per speech and I thought I’d at least float the possibility. Needless to say, I was a tad insecure about asking for “so much moola,” thus the joke.

Last Thursday I was informed by Email I got the gig and to call Jessica to work out the details. I called her and we went over the riders (do I want green M&Ms or Dos Equis in the Green Room? My response: “You have a Green Room?”), and technical stuff like microphone and power point requirements, my social security number, etc. As we wrapped up the details I asked her if the $1,000 fee was acceptable, and this is what she said, and I quote:

“They’re still debating whether they want the mature speech.”

I’m not making this up. They were the ones who requested the “family friendly” speech, and yet, evidently when they were faced with the choice of getting the prospect of juicy “mature audience” material, they were suddenly willing to pay 33% more for forbidden fruit.

No wonder adult films in hotel rooms are $13.99 while regular Hollywood films, with real plots and people who can actually act, only get $4. Or, is that the real message? No matter, it’s certainly an insight into shuman schmaister, no?

”Look for the absurd in everything, and you will find it.”
—Jules Renard

Saturday, July 01, 2006

July 1, 2006
A big monsoon storm blew in last night, knocking out the power. Dogs cowering at my feet as I sat on the patio and listened to the thunder and watched the palo verdes quiver and shake. The paper said we got about three quarters of an inch of rain with fifty mile an hour winds.

As promised, here’s my journal entry (original written in long hand) where I visited the set of Tombstone. First, let me backtrack:

In May of 1993 I got a sneak peek at a new movie getting set to film. The script, Tombstone, by screenwriter Kevin Jarre (Glory) really nailed the Earp story and I bemoaned in my daily journal that I couldn’t have done as good a job (I had the conceit I would write the definitive Wyatt Earp script). Several weeks later, the movie’s historical consultant, Jeff Morey, called me and asked me if I wanted to visit the Tombstone set. Here is my journal entry for that day:

June 9, 1993
Left the station [KSLX, radio station in Scottsdale] with Deena [my daughter, 13] at 9:30 and drove to Tucson. Picked up Jeff Morey at 11:30 and stopped at McDonald’s to get a quick bite. Deena got out and said, “Your tire is going flat, Dad.” Sure enough, the right front tire of Kathy’s Toyota Land Cruiser was fading fast. I moved the car away from the front door and called AAA. Deena and I ate ($6) and I tipped the tow truck guy ($3). Got gas ($26). The flat put us about an hour behind and we finally took off at about one p.m. We cruised easily to Sonoita and had a movie production crew map to get to the Elgin movie site which was on the “Research Ranch” property. Jeff was the navigator and since he had been out to the site a couple times, I was irritated when it became obvious we had missed the turn. Finally, we backtracked, losing another half hour!

Finally, at about three we pulled into the side canyon where the “Tombstone” crew was filming. We could see all the way up into the draw where the “Rustler Park” scene was being filmed. Big trucks were parked down by the main road—all kinds—Budget rental trucks, water trucks, sound semis, horse trailers, stunt buses, dressing rooms (portable). Three body dummies were sprawled across the tailgate of a big white truck. No movie logos were evident on the trucks. It was an instant-mini-city. I took a pic of Deena with one of the dummies and we headed, on foot, up the draw. We met various employees with headsets and props coming and going up the road. Half-way around the bend we came to the power truck which was a huge, white tractor-trailer-cab, with a big, square transmitter type batteries on the back. Big cables stretched out from one of the modules towards the canyon. The engine was running—nobody was in the cab. Just beyond the power pack, on the opposite side of the road was a long red horse trailer with six or seven black thoroughbreds tied to it. Each horse had a handsome, authentic, high-back saddle and a shotgun on the saddlehorn and a Winchester in the scabbard. I recognized this immediately as Wyatt’s posse armada. A short distance from the posse remuda we met the gun wrangler [Thell Reed]. He looked like Ike Clanton, and showed us all the rifles being used stacked in the back of a truck. It was an impressive arsenal—with many 1873 model Winchesters. Masking tape was attached to the stock of each one with the name of the character that used it—”Ike Clanton” and “John Ringo.”

We were now “on the set” and I could see a camp with horses, a tent, a red flag on a hill behind and men eating—my first reaction was that they were eating lunch, but I quickly realized they were in a scene. When we cleared a phalanx of grips and lights I finally saw where the cameras were and Jeff, Deena and I made our way along the edge of the scene. I heard “Action!” and a Charro stepped out from the chuck wagon and said, pointing, “Florentino, blah, blah, Chingado, blah, blah, Chingado.” In the crush of technicians swarming around the two panovision cameras, I tried to make out Kevin Jarre, the director. I would never have picked the slender, non-descript, guy in the baseball cap. Jeff introduced us. We were in the eye of the hurricane. People were coming up and calling him “sir.” We watched them film the “Chingado” sene again and again. Kevin retired to the back, and sat, side by side with the cinematographer on high canvas chairs with umbrellas. All the crew stood in front of them, blocking their view but the two of them could watch the scene on a monitor which showed the camera view in blue video. Kevin jumped around and smoked. As the crew wrapped the scene Florentino did several close-up takes at looking shocked as the non-existent posse came over the rise (he looked rather wooden and hammy to me)—the crew picked up and moved across a wash to the other side.

That’s where we spotted Val Kilmer on horseback. He looked pasty and small. He was sitting next to a guy in a tango hat who turned out to be Kurt Russell! We didn’t recognize him until he took his hat off. They started improvising a new scene where the posse rides up (and over) several rustlers and confronts them. Wyatt quirts one of the bad guys, tosses his hat to Doc and gets down to beat the daylights out of him. This seemed totally made-up on the spot! When Russell would punch he would actually say, “Pow!” and “Bam!” just like a kid in the back yard. Kevin stepped in and showed Kurt how he wanted the punches delivered “Up, across, uppercut.” I think I spotted Russell slowly change the sequence into a typical Hollywood fight scene. It was hard to see clearly from the back, but when Kevin did it—the sequence had a sort of Queensbury boxing rhythm to it, which slowly evaporated with each runthrough.

We gravitated to the other side and watched the scene shape up. It was warm—almost hot—a slight breeze made it bearable. Kevin J. and Kurt walked through the scene again and again. We retired to a small hill for a better view. A warning was related that live-half charge ammo was being used. Deena and I both wondered how the horses would respond. The Wranglers trotted them back and forth to loosen them up. Finally, the five man posse backed off about fifteen yards and prepared for action. A series of commands began, “Mark!”, “Sound!” “Fire in the hole!”, etc. The quintet rode forward on “Action!”—firing several shots in the air. The horses barely flinched. Wyatt had words with a cowboy—quirted him—and then throwing his Zorro hat to Doc (I wondered how many takes it would take until the hat took off—it happened on about the fifth take.) At the end of the scene, Turkey Creek Johnson remarks that Florentino is getting away—and turns to fire a Winchester at him. The first time he does this—he pulls, cocks and aims right at the gunsmith and being a bevy of gun-savvy extras, they all dive out of the way! He (Turkey) is oblivious to their very existence. (In fact every time this is re-enacted, Turkey’s horse starts walking and he has to rein in and aim, several times per take. Deena and I chuckle under our breath). After about 45 minutes into this scene, Kevin Jarre looks up to where we are sitting and comes up the hill to sit down and chat! I am thrilled! I know he’s very, very busy. I gush a bit more than I would have liked, but when I tell him I especially liked the hats—he visibly beamed—he lit up.

My last two images were of a close-up on Val, where Wyatt tosses him his hat. Val is alone on horseback and Kurt is on a ladder [to simulate being on a horse] to toss the capo! Just before we left, I talked to Russell. I asked him if he knew who “Honkytonk Sue” is, he said nope. When I said that Goldie bought the rights, he said, “Oh, yeh, the water-rights story!” Meaning the script Larry McMurtry wrote. He seemed decent. When we left, Val was sitting in his canvas chair, sucking on a cig and looking down into a mirror, mesmerized with something in his face.

End of diary entry. Two days later, on June 11, I got the phone call that Kevin Jarre had been fired as director. I later heard from a crew member that it was the fight scene that was the last straw. If true, I had witnessed the moment he lost his job. Amazing. None of the scenes I saw filmed made it into the movie.

“Anticipating pleasure is also a pleasure.”
—Old Vaquero Saying